Earning the right to drive is one of the greatest feelings a teenager can have. However, many young drivers are entirely unaware of the seriousness of violating traffic laws while driving on a junior learner’s permit or junior license. Moreover, most junior drivers only have a vague understanding of the restrictions placed on such licenses.
The following information will help young drivers with junior licenses or junior learning permits better understand those restrictions and the penalties for committing driving offenses.
The Difference Between Junior License and Junior Learner’s Permit
The main difference between a junior license and junior learner’s permit is that the latter requires a supervising driver over the age of 21 at all times, while a junior license only requires a supervising driver at certain times.
Restrictions for Junior Learner’s Permit Holders
Drivers with junior learner’s permits must adhere to the following limitations:
- Driving between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. in Upstate New York (any county north of NYC) requires the presence of a supervising adult over the age of 21 in the front passenger seat who has a valid driver’s license for the vehicle class being driven.
- Driving between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. in Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk) or NYC requires a parent, legal guardian, or driving school instructor sitting in the front, passenger seat. This person must also have a valid driver’s license for the vehicle class being driven.
- Driving between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. is not allowed in Nassau County, Suffolk County, or the five boroughs of New York City.
- Driving between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. in Upstate New York requires the presence of a parent, legal guardian, or driving school instructor sitting in the front, passenger seat. This person must also have a valid driver’s license for the vehicle class being driven.
- At all times, no more than one person under 21 is allowed in the car (unless he/she is an immediate family member or the supervising driver is a parent or guardian).
- At all times, persons in the vehicle must wear a seat belt or federally-approved child safety seats.
In addition, a junior driver with a learner’s permit may not drive at any time in any of the following places:
- Any street within a park in New York City
- Any bridge or tunnel under the jurisdiction of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority
- The Cross County, Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River, or Taconic State parkways in Westchester County
- Any a DMV road test area
Important: There are different restrictions for junior license holders depending on where in New York State you are driving. Accidentally violating these restrictions can result in a ticket and possibly a license suspension.
Restrictions for Junior Driver’s Licenses
Once a person has graduated to a junior license, the junior driver is permitted the following exceptions to the above rules:
- In Upstate New York, junior license holders can drive at any time without a supervisor provided that no more than one person under 21 is in the car and all persons are wearing a seat belt or federally-approved child safety seats.
- Between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. junior license holders may only drive unsupervised directly between their home and school or work (officers may require proof of employment).
- On Long Island, junior license holders may drive unsupervised at any time to and from one’s home and the following locations:
- Place of employment (must carry appropriate proof of employment)
- A state-approved cooperative work-study program
- College, high school, or other post-secondary institution
- An approved driver education course
Note that a junior driver’s license is not valid in New York City! A learner’s permit with a supervising driver or full adult license in required in the five boroughs. If a junior driver is caught driving in NYC, they can be ticketed for VTL 509 which covers license restrictions.
How Does a Traffic Ticket Affect a Junior Driver?
Junior drivers who commit a violation will face fines and points on their license. And, as every parent of a teenage driver already knows, they cost a lot to insure because of their inexperience. A conviction for a traffic violation can cause these steep insurance rates to climb even higher.
A serious traffic offense charge could have employment consequences as well. Young drivers who apply for jobs that require a clean driving record could be turned away, and those who already hold such jobs could lose them.
Junior drivers who are convicted of a serious traffic violation or two other violations will find their driving privileges suspended for 60 days. They can also have their junior license or learner’s permit revoked for 60 days if they are convicted of a serious traffic violation or two other violations within the first six months after a suspension or revocation.
A serious traffic violation is one any violation worth three or more points. This includes speeding, texting while driving, and other offenses. For example, the first conviction of a cell phone use or texting violation will result in a suspension of one’s driver license or permit for 120 days. A second conviction within six months will result in the loss of a probationary license or learner’s permit for at least one year.
Why Is New York State So Harsh on Junior Drivers?
Studies have shown that young drivers have a tendency to be more reckless and have more difficulty seeing the consequences of their actions than adult drivers. Roughly 14,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are involved in injury-causing car accidents each year in New York and about 100 are killed in these crashes, according to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research. As such, the driving laws in New York are extra-stringent on drivers who hold junior licenses. While this may seem unfair, it is designed to keep New York State roads safe and limit the risks young drivers take.
Notice: Don’t count on getting off with a warning from a cop or leniency from a judge just because you are young. Penalties are harsher for junior license holders in order to discourage inexperienced drivers from taking unnecessary risks.
What Should Junior Drivers Do About New York Traffic Tickets?
A traffic ticket is even more serious for junior drivers than it is for those with full adult driver’s licenses. Parents of young drivers must do everything in their power to reduce the possible impact of a traffic ticket in New York. If you or your child has received a traffic ticket while driving on a junior license or learner’s permit, contact an attorney for help right away. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law are experienced traffic ticket attorneys who have helped many young drivers in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation about your case.
- A junior license can be suspended for 60 days after just one traffic ticket worth 3+ points.
- The same is true after two lesser (<3 points) traffic tickets.
- Getting another ticket within six months of a suspension can result in a junior license being revoked (must take the written and road test all over again).