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Pennsylvania Learners Permit (PA) Rules & Laws

Those who already have a driving permit probably remember the thrill you experience you when you go for your first drive. However, driving is not a ride on a roller coaster, it is far more dangerous and many people tend to forget that. This is why Pennsylvania, just like most other states, enforces a number of learners permit restrictions that prevent new drivers from getting into trouble. The driving permit rules and restrictions differ for drivers that come from different age groups, but they all have the same intent - to reduce the risk of you being involved in a traffic accident. Please remember to observe all Pennsylvania permit restrictions while driving with your learners permit, when you break the rules you endanger yourself and other drivers who surround you on public roads.

Why Do We Need These Restrictions

If you've already done some poking around and read the official Pennsylvania drivers license handbook, you may have uncovered that lack of driving experience is probably the main cause of most traffic accidents out there. Of course, there are irresponsible drivers, there are those who treat public roads as their personal race track, but their numbers are few. Most of the accidents happen when drivers don't pay enough attention to the road or don't know how to anticipate and avoid situations that can lead to a traffic accident. Experience is what takes care of this problem, the more hours you spend behind the wheel, the less likely you are to crash.

The permit restrictions are there to ensure that you get that experience in a relatively safe driving environment. During the last decade, many studies on traffic safety have been conducted and most of the possible dangers have been identified. We know the time of the day when you are more likely to be involved in a traffic accident, we know what age group have the highest crash rates and these statistics allow the state to take measures to keep you safe. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (most of us know it as the DMV) develops the restrictions and it is up to the state Police Department to enforce the observance of these rules.

Pennsylvania Age Dependent Permit Rules

Teenage drivers are much more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than drivers of any other age group. This is why the state has developed a graduated driver license program that applies only to those who receive a license before they turn 18. The graduated license program determines the licensing procedure and introduces additional permit restrictions that aim at issues specific to this age group.

Pennsylvania Learners Permit Rules - Over 18

If you apply for your permit after you turn 18, there won't be that many restrictions for you to observe. Just like younger drivers, you will have to pass a Pennsylvania drivers permit test prior to receiving a permit. You may want to test yourself with some practice permit tests before you decide to wrestle the real thing.

Permit holders who are over 18 years of age must observe the following restrictions:

  • No driving alone. You must have a licensed drivers who is at least 21 years old or an immediate relative who is at least 18 seated next to you at all times while you practice your driving.
  • No cell phones. You cannot operate any communication devices during this period. This means no phone calls, no texting, no checking the e-mail.

These restrictions will be lifted as soon as you take a road driving test and receive your full Pennsylvania driver license.

Pennsylvania Driving Permit Restrictions - Under 18

As mentioned above, the licensing procedure for teenagers is governed by the graduated license laws and the same laws dictate what restrictions you will need to observe. Just like with drivers who are older than 18 years, you will have to take a permit exam before you can be issued with your Pennsylvania drivers permit, however, the list of restrictions you will need to observe is a bit more lengthy.

  • Supervised driving only. Whenever you get out on the road, you must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old or a parent, legal guardian or a spouse who is at least 18 years of age. Needless to say, the supervisor must have a valid drivers license.
  • Curfew. If you get out on the road between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., the supervising driver must be your parent, legal guardian or a spouse.
  • Passenger restrictions. The number of passengers in the vehicle is limited to the number of seatbelts the vehicle is equipped with.

When you upgrade to the junior drivers license, most of these restrictions will be lifted, however, the junior license still has some limitations that you have to observe. In order to upgrade to a full license before you turn 18, you have to complete a Pennsylvania drivers education course and hold your junior license for at least 1 year. If you don't want to take drivers ed (although we think that you should take the class, drivers who went through drivers education classes are statistically safer drivers than those who don't take the class), your junior drivers license restrictions will be removed from your license once you turn 18.