Teen drivers are learning the rules of the road. While learning to drive can be an exciting part of gaining independence as a teenager, it’s vital for both teens and parents to understand the laws that apply to young drivers. Knowing the laws can improve a driver’s safety and help ensure they receive their license in a timely manner.
Arizona’s current Teenage Driver Safety Act took effect in 2008.
The law sets several limits on drivers under the age of 18 for the first six months after they receive their Class G or “Graduated” driver’s license.
What is a Class G license?
The class G driver’s license, also known as a “graduated” license, is designed for young drivers who are still learning the nuances of safe driving.
To apply for a class G license, a driver must:
- Be at least 16 years of age,
- Have had a valid instruction permit for at least six months, and
- Have completed a driver education program approved by the Arizona Department of Transportation, or
- Provide certification in writing from a parent or guardian that the applicant has completed at least 30 hours of supervised driving practice, at least 10 of which were at night.
The applicant must also take and pass the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) driver’s license examination.
What are the curfew requirements for a Class G license?
For the first six months a young driver has their Class G license, they may not drive on public roads between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
There are certain exceptions to the curfew rule, however. For instance, the Class G license holder may drive between midnight and five a.m. if:
- A parent or legal guardian with a Class A, B, C or D license is riding along in the front passenger seat of the vehicle,
- The Class G license holder is driving directly between home and a sanctioned school-sponsored activity, their place of employment, a sanctioned religious activity, or a family emergency.
Even when the young driver is traveling to or from school, work, religious activities, or a family emergency, they must be going directly to or from these events if they are driving during the curfew hours. Stopping to drop off friends or run errands is prohibited, unless the Class G license holder has an appropriately licensed parent or guardian in the front passenger seat with them.
In some situations, a teen driver may receive a citation for breaking curfew, even if they were traveling under one of the exceptions listed in the Teenage Driver Safety Act. If a Class G license holder is cited for breaking curfew while traveling directly to or from a permitted event, the citation may be dismissed if the license holder supplies a notarized letter from a parent or legal guardian that explains the situation. For information on how this option may apply to your specific situation, speak to an attorney.
Can a Class G license holder carry passengers?
Young drivers on their graduated or Class G license may transport only one passenger who is under the age of 18 for the first six months after receiving their Class G license. For instance, a teen who just received his or her Class G license may transport one friend home from school, but not two or three.
As with the curfew requirement, however, there are exceptions to the “only one passenger under 18” rule. For example, a Class G license holder can transport more than one passenger who is under 18 if those passengers are the driver’s siblings. The driver can also transport more than one person under 18 if a parent or legal guardian with a Class A, B, C or D license is riding along in the front passenger seat.
As with the curfew rules, teen drivers in some situations might receive a citation for carrying more than one passenger under age 18. If so, the citation may be dismissed if the notarized letter explains that the passengers were the driver’s siblings. It is wise to consult an attorney for advice that fits your specific situation.
As with any vehicle, passengers must always be seated appropriately and wearing their seat belts.
How long do the Class G restrictions last?
When the license holder turns 18, driving restrictions and penalties imposed on a Class G license no longer apply, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. At that point, the driver can apply for a Class D driver’s license in Arizona, allowing them to drive without curfew hours and without restrictions on the ages or number of people in their vehicle (other than the restrictions imposed by factors such as the number of available seat belts).
What about a motorcycle license?
In Arizona, a Class M driver license or “motorcycle endorsement” is required for anyone who wants to drive a motorcycle on public roads. Teens who are at least 16 years old may apply for a class M license.
In order to receive a Class M license, a teen must show that they have had an instruction permit for at least six months. They must also demonstrate that they completed an ADOT-approved motorcycle driver education course, or their parent or guardian must certify in writing that the teen has completed at least 30 hours of motorcycle driving practice.
In practice, license restrictions may affect a teen’s ability to drive even after they turn 18, depending on the situation in which those restrictions were acquired. It can be helpful to consult an experienced Arizona attorney if you have specific questions about a teen’s ability to acquire a Class D or other type of license, whether before or after they turn 18.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at the Folger Law Firm are dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they need. We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay fees unless we recover for you.