The receipt of a driver’s license provides great freedom, but it also warrants great responsibility. Careless driving can result in serious injury or even death. Teens are at a greater risk of getting into a car accident than drivers of any other age. In fact, car accidents are the leading cause of death among US teenagers according to the CDC. In an effort to curb teen driving accidents, Massachusetts places a number of restrictions on teen drivers. Both parents and teens alike benefit from understanding what the restrictions are and what the penalties are for violating a restriction.
What Age Can A Teen Legally Drive In Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, a resident must be 16 years of age or older to legally obtain a driver’s license. Certain states will allow teens to begin driving with a learner’s permit at 15. However, the graduated driver’s license program does not start until 16 in Massachusetts. In fact, even with a license or permit from another state, you cannot legally drive if you move to Massachusetts and are under 16 years of age.
How The Massachusetts Graduated Driver License Program Works
Like every other state in the country, Massachusetts operates under a graduated driver license program. Teens can work their way towards earning a license by achieving a number of age and experience-related milestones. Still, the milestones involved for a teen to obtain a license in MA differ slightly from many other states. The process begins at 16.
A teen can apply for a Class D Learner’s Permit at 16 years of age. A learner’s permit allows a teen to operate a motor vehicle as long as there is a licensed driver age 21 or older present in the passenger seat at all times. Applicants must pass a written test and eye exam to be eligible for a permit.
Once a permit is obtained, a teen must log 40 hours of supervised driving time in addition to taking a driver’s education course. Courses include 30 hours of classroom instruction, 12 hours of instruction behind the wheel, and 6 hours of in-car observation. Massachusetts takes things a step further and requires parents to also take a 2 hour course on how to properly supervise teens while they work towards fulfilling the 40 hours of supervised driving requirement.
At 16 and 6 months, teens will be eligible to apply for a Class D Junior Operator License. To obtain a junior operator license, a teen must have:
- Held a learner’s permit for 6 months while maintaining a clean driving record
- Completed an approved Massachusetts driver’s ed program
- Logged 40 hours of supervised driving
- Passed the final written driving exam
- Passed the road test
A teen with a junior operator license will be able to drive without adult supervision, but there are restrictions placed on a junior operator license.
Restrictions On Teen Provisional Licenses
There are ultimately three major restrictions placed on a junior operator license. Teens with a junior operator license cannot:
- Drive passengers under the age of 18 (with the exception of siblings)
- Drive between 12:30am and 5am (unless accompanied by a parent or guardian)
- Use a mobile phone while driving
The restrictions are lifted once a teen turns 18.
The Importance of Teen Road Safety
The restrictions imposed on teen drivers may seem harsh, but they help to reduce the rates of drowsy and distracted driving among younger drivers. Emphasis on teen road safety is incredibly important. Teens accounted for 7% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes and 5% of all driver fatalities in 2016. A combination of immaturity and a lack of skills and experience can create a recipe for disaster if the restrictions placed on a junior operator are not adhered to.
There are also legal consequences for teens who do not abide by the restrictions placed on a junior operator license. Penalties include a 60-day license suspension with a $100 reinstatement fee. Penalties for mobile phone usage while driving are worse. For a first offense, offenders can expect to receive a $100 fine and 60-day license suspension in addition to having to attend an attitudinal retraining course.
Contact Attorney Peter Ventura
If your teen has been involved in an accident or you’ve been involved in an accident with a teen driver, Worcester car accident attorney Peter Ventura is here to help. For over 25 years, Attorney Ventura has worked to ensure accident victims earn the compensation they deserve. Attorney Ventura can investigate your accident and fight on your behalf to prevent the insurance companies from reducing or denying your claim. Contact Attorney Ventura today by calling (508) 755-7535 or filling out a contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.