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About Teen Driver Laws

Tennessee’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program is a multi-tiered program designed to ease young novice drivers into full driving privileges as they become more mature and develop their driving skills. By requiring more supervised practice, the State of Tennessee hopes to save lives and prevent tragic injuries. Tennessee’s GDL Program started on July 1, 2001.  It places certain restrictions on teens under the age of 18 who have learner permits and driver licenses. The program requires parent/legal guardian involvement, and emphasizes the importance of a good driving record.




LEVEL 1

LEARNER PERMIT (PD)

Requirements:

  • 15 years old
  • Vision Exam
  • Knowledge Test
  • SF-1010 School Form
  • Parent Signature
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship/Lawful Permanent Residency

Issued For: 12 months*
Restrictions:

  • Accompanied by licensed driver 21+ in front seat
  • No driving between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Seat belts mandatory for driver, front seat occupants, and passengers under 18 (child restraint devices for 9 & under)
  • All cell phone use prohibited

LEVEL 2

INTERMEDIATE RESTRICTED (IR)*

Requirements:

  • 16 years old
  • Valid PD held for 180 days
  • SF-1256 Form certifying 50 hours driving experience (must include 10 hours at night)
  • Pass Driving Test
  • Cannot have 6 or more points in last 180 days

Issued For: Until age 21
Restrictions:

  • One passenger in car*
  • No driving between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Seatbelts mandatory for driver and front seat occupants. Seat belts mandatory for driver, front seat occupants, and passengers under 18 (child restraint devices for 9 & under)
  • All cell phone use prohibited

LEVEL 3

INTERMEDIATE UNRESTRICTED (IU)*

Requirements:

  • 17 years old
  • Valid IR for 1 year • Must not have accumulated 6 or more points on driving record, an at-fault accident or a 2nd seat belt conviction. (Note: Conviction of 2nd seat belt violation adds 90 days waiting to the IR. )

Issued For: Until age 21
Restrictions:

  • Seat belts mandatory for driver, front seat occupants, and passengers under 18 (child restraint devices for 9 & under)
  • All cell phone use prohibited

LEVEL 4

REGULAR CLASS D DRIVER LICENSE*

Requirements: 18 years old
Issued For: Until age 21 (“Under 21” indicator will remain)
Restrictions: Seat belts mandatory for driver, front seat occupants, and passengers under 18 (child restraint devices for 9 & under) • All cell phone use prohibited





The procedures for obtaining a driver license for those under the age of 18 are covered in Section A-3 of the Comprehensive Driver Manual on the State Department of Safety website.  Review 
Section A-3 of the Comprehensive Driver Manual for additional information on the Graduated Driver License Program.

Teen Risk Factors & The Law

Don't Text & Drive
Distracted-driving crashes kill 8 people every day.
Don't Text & Drive
Distracted-driving crashes kill 8 people every day.
Belt Up
In 2010, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved 12,546 lives.
Slow Down in Work Zones
Work-zone crashes kill a teenager every 3 days.