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The NJ Graduated Driver License

If you’re a teenager or the parent of a teenager who has begun the process of obtaining a New Jersey driver’s license, then you have probably heard of New Jersey’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) program. But what exactly is the GDL, who’s obligated to adhere to the program, and how exactly does it work?

What is the Graduated Driver License Program?

The GDL program is a New Jersey state-required period of supervised driving for prospective NJ drivers under the age of 21, as well as for anyone else looking to obtain a New Jersey license who have never had a driver’s license at all (in any state). The program — administered by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission — has three options, which depend on the age of the aspiring driver:

  • The Early Bird Road (16 years old)
  • The Young Adult Road (17-21 years old)
  • The Adult Road (21 and over)

Each of these programs has its own requirements and restrictions, so it’s important to be aware that what is required of a 16-year-old high school student will differ from the requirements placed upon an adult driving student.

The Early Bird Road Option

By far the most common route to a driver’s license in the state of New Jersey, the Early Bird Road program is required for 16-year-olds and is a three-phase process that begins with a student learner’s permit.

NJ Student Learner’s Permit

This option is required for the 16-year-old, first-time NJ driver. Contrary to common belief, a student does not have to wait to pass the knowledge test at his or her high school. At age 16, a licensed driving school can accompany a student to a motor vehicle testing center to take the knowledge test. NJMVC rules also require a basic vision screening as part of the permitting process. At this point, the 16-year-old may participate in the mandatory 6-hour behind-the-wheel training in a dual-controlled vehicle with a licensed driving school, after which the permit is validated and a road test is scheduled. A minimum of six months of supervised practice with a licensed driver (over 21 years of age and licensed for at least three years) is then required.

NJ Probationary License

Once the teen candidate reaches the age of 17 and successfully passes the road test, they will be issued a provisional one-year license. This license carries with it specific passenger restrictions as well as curfew limitations, such as only one non-family teen being allowed in the vehicle and being off the road between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am.

NJ Basic Driver License

At the end of the one-year provisional period (and after reaching the age of 18), a multi-year unrestricted license will finally be issued. This completes the Graduated Driver License process for the 16-year-old candidate.

The Young Adult Road Option

The Young Adult Road program shares many of the same requirements as the Early Bird Road option, with one major exception: the mandatory 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed driving school is not required for 17 to 21-year olds. The six month supervised driving period is, however, still required – as is the probationary license requirement. Also, prospective drivers who fall into this age group obtain a NJ examination permit, versus the student learner’s permit required of 16-year-olds.

The Adult Road Option

The Adult Road program is the third and final option and is intended for those 21 and over who have never held a driver’s license. Like the Young Adult Road, aspiring drivers in this group must obtain a New Jersey examination permit before moving into the supervised driving phase. The big difference here is that the supervised driving phase is only required for a minimum of three months, and has no time-of-day driving restrictions. After earning a probationary license, passing the road test, and completing at least one year of unsupervised driving, the candidate may then finally apply for their NJ driver’s license.

Preparing for Your Success!

No matter what age you begin your quest for a New Jersey driver’s license, the most important thing you can do along the way to ensure success is to be prepared. At Open Road Driving Academy, we are here to provide you with the guidance, knowledge and practice that you need to successfully earn that coveted license to drive. We offer a range of tailored driving instruction services that, combined with our many years of professional experience, will ensure that you —or your child— will develop into a safe, responsible driver. Contact us today to learn more and get started!

For more detailed information about the New Jersey GDL program, please visit the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission website.


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