I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Written by Chris Huntley
Founder of Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services Chris Huntley

Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Mar 31, 2022

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Here's the Scoop

  • Depending on your state’s laws and restrictions, you may be able to drive alone with a learner’s permit 
  • In most states, drivers with a learner’s permit must have a fully licensed driver in the vehicle at all times, typically a family member
  • When you apply for your learner’s permit, you’ll be given all the information you need to know about what you can and can’t do with your permit, according to your state 

The first step in becoming a fully licensed driver is to obtain a learner’s permit. With a learner’s permit, you may be able to drive alone, depending on your state.

In most places, drivers with a learner’s permit must have a fully licensed driver in the vehicle at all times, usually a family member, like a parent or guardian. Drivers with a learner’s permit can, nevertheless, drive alone in some states. Continue reading to learn about the rules for driving with a learner’s permit and how to check for the restrictions in your state. 

Can you drive by yourself with a permit?

The truth is that when it comes to whether or not you can drive a car alone with a permit, the rules and restrictions will be particular to the state in which you are currently residing, as permit laws vary by state. This implies that before deciding whether you’ll be able to drive your car on your own, you’ll need to look into the rules in your state.

For example, in Colorado, if you are under 18, Colorado driving laws prohibit you from driving alone. You must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, a driver’s education instructor, or a licensed driver at least 21 years old whenever you go out for a drive. Whereas in California, you must first tackle several requirements, including being accompanied by an adult aged 25 or older during night hours. They will, however, make exceptions in the event of a medical emergency. Because of these variations from state to state, you’ll need to research the rules in your own state before determining whether you’ll be able to drive freely with a learner’s permit.

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What is a learner’s permit?

In some states, a learner’s permit, sometimes known as an instructional permit, is a document that grants the holder limited driving privileges. During their adolescent years, the majority of people obtain a learner’s permit. In some states, drivers as young as 14 can receive a learner’s permit. A learner’s permit can be obtained at the age of 16 in most states.

You can apply for a complete driver’s license after possessing a learner’s permit for a specified period. Your driving privileges are expanded with a full driver’s license. Every state in the United States (including Washington, D.C.) has a graduate driver’s license program for teenagers. Although each state’s regulations differ, most states employ a learner’s permit system as the initial step toward becoming a licensed driver.

How can I check if my state allows me to drive alone?

It’s important to double-check whether your state enables you to drive alone with a permit, or whether you’ll need a licensed driver in the car to assist you. If you don’t check and end up breaking the law by accident, you could put yourself in a lot of trouble and face a fine. 

If you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to drive alone or if you’ll need to have a fully licensed driver in the car with you to help, normally finding out your state’s rules on the matter will be simple. When you apply for your learner’s permit, you’ll be given all the information you need to know about what you can and can’t do with it, including whether you’ll be able to drive alone or whether you’ll need to be accompanied. 

Moreover, if you’ve misplaced the information that was sent to you when you applied for the permit, all you have to do is contact the DMV, who will be able to assist you and clear up any doubt you may have about solo driving as a learner driver. 

Who can be in the car with a permit driver?

Depending on your state driving laws, typically, if your state prohibits you from driving alone, you must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, a driver’s education instructor, or a licensed driver at least 21 years old whenever you go out for a drive. In some states, like California, the age of the driver accompanying you must be 25 or older. States differ on what age a licensed adult must be. In some states, a licensed adult can be as young as 19. In others, he or she must be at least 21 or even 25. Again, make sure to check the requirements and limitations specific to your state. 

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Can I ever drive without a licensed adult in the front seat?

In most circumstances, the answer is no for most states. A few states, however, may allow you to drive unattended for brief periods. For example, if you need to see a doctor regularly for health concerns or need to get to work and the only method is to drive, you may be authorized to drive for that short length of time without a licensed adult.

Spend a lot of time familiarizing yourself with your state’s regulations if you think you’ll need to do this. In situations like these, you’ll usually need formal authorization from a parent or legal guardian, as well as a signed statement from your doctor or supervisor stating that you need to get there and that driving yourself is the only way to get there. 

What do you need to get your permit?

The requirements vary from state to state, but typically, you must do the following:

  • Pass a written knowledge test (also known as the learner’s permit test).
  • Pass a vision test to show that you can see well enough to drive.
  • Provide documents that verify your identity, age, and home address (residency) in your state.
  • Complete a driver’s education (driver’s ed) course.
  • Fill out an application for a learner’s permit.
  • Pay a fee for the permit (and possibly an additional fee for the knowledge test).
  • Get signed consent from your parent or legal guardian if you’re under 18.

What happens if I drive without a permit?

Driving without your permit is not a good idea. If you are caught violating a restriction, you might face any or all of the following:

  • The suspension of your learner’s permit, which may mean applying for a new one
  • Fines and penalties
  • Points added to your driving record
  • An extension to the length of time you must hold your learner’s permit before you can apply for a driver’s license

Can you drive alone with a permit?

A driver’s permit, also known as a learner’s permit, learner’s license, or provisional license, is a restricted license that new drivers must obtain before being granted a full driver’s license. You can drive with a driver’s permit, according to the restrictions and limitations of your state, until you pass your driver’s test. The age at which you must apply for a driver’s license varies from state to state. 

One of the things that most teenagers desire to be able to do is drive themselves to school or work. While a driving permit prevents you from driving alone, it is your ticket to getting a driver’s license, which will eventually allow you to drive alone if you follow all applicable rules and regulations.

A teen driver with a permit is expected to obey the rules of the road and observe the limitations associated with their driver’s permit. Do not lose your driving privileges just because you are not aware of the things you cannot do.