Georgia Teenage Driving Laws: What Teens and Parents Need to Know

Joshua’s Law requires Georgia teen drivers to complete a state-approved driver training program before applying for a Class D driver’s license.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Edited by Amy Bobinger
has specific laws that place limits on teenage drivers 16 and 17 years of age. Known as Joshua’s Law, drivers in this age group must complete a state-approved driver education course with a certified private or public driving school before they can get their Georgia driver’s license—and even then, they must start with a provisional license. 
  • Georgia teen drivers must get a learner’s permit and provisional driver’s license before they can apply for a full license.
  • To get a Georgia instructional permit, you’ll need to pass a vision test and knowledge test.
  • Once you’ve had your learner’s permit for one year and one day, you can apply for a Class D provisional driver’s license.
  • The Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits all use of mobile phones when behind the wheel—you’ll receive a $50 fine if you’re caught using one.
  • Penalties for violating Georgia’s provisional license laws range from fines to license suspension and jail time.

Rules for teen drivers in Georgia

In 1997, the state of Georgia established the Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) that put specific requirements in place for 15 to 18-year-olds who want to become licensed drivers. 
Under TADRA, teens in Georgia must progress through a series of provisional license restrictions to prove that they are truly ready for the responsibility of driving. If a teen receives any violations during this period, it will prolong the provisional process. 
TADRA isn’t just about following road rules. Teens are also required to meet certain educational requirements. For instance, if you’re 17 years old and drop out of high school, you may n ot be able to obtain your driver’s license. 

Getting a learner’s permit

In Georgia, you can apply for a learner’s permit as early as age 15. To qualify, you must:
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pass a knowledge test
  • Have your permit application signed by a parent, guardian, or authorized driving instructor 
You’ll need to be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or authorized driving instructor when you arrive at the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) to take your permit test. 
On top of that, you’ll also need to provide the following documents: 
  • Verification of identity (birth certification, passport, etc.)
  • Certificate of Attendance from your high school that’s been signed and dated within the last 30 days
You can pay the $10 permit fee by cash or credit card. 
If you pass the knowledge and vision portions of the exam, you’ll be granted a learner’s permit. With a learner’s permit, you must drive with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old. Their license must be in good standing in case they need to take control of the motor vehicle at any time, and they must be seated in the passenger’s seat while the car is in motion. 

Getting a provisional driver’s license

After you’ve held your Georgia learner’s permit for one year and one day without any incidents, you’re eligible to get your Class D provisional driver’s license. 
Again, if you’re under 18, you’ll need to either submit proof that you’re enrolled in high school or have completed high school or a GED program.
Before obtaining a Class D provisional license in Georgia, teens aged 16 must complete the following coursework: 
  • Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program (ADAP), which you can either take through your school or online. You will be asked to show proof of completion of the ADAP course when you arrive at the DDS to take your driving test. 
  • 30 hours of driver’s education classroom instruction or the equivalent online course
  • DDS Parent-Teen Driving Guide
    which includes 40 hours of on-road experience (at least six hours must have been driven at night). 
As long as you can check all of these boxes and pass your written and driving tests, you’ll earn your Class D provisional license in Georgia. If you cannot meet the above requirements, you’ll need to wait until you’re 17 to obtain your driver’s license.
Once you do have your Class D provisional license, be aware that you’ll have to follow driving restrictions which are enforced by state law:
  • No driving between the hours of 12 AM and 5 AM. There are no exceptions. 
  • For the first six months, only immediate family members are permitted to ride in the vehicle while you drive.    
  • During the second six-month period, one passenger under 21 who is not an immediate family member can ride in the vehicle while you drive. 
  • After one year without incident, three passengers under 21 who are not immediate family members can ride in the vehicle while you drive. 

Georgia teenage drivers and cell phone use

Texting and driving is a massive problem—and teens are even more susceptible to the temptations of this dangerous habit. Calling, texting, browsing, and posting on social media contribute to thousands of accidents every year. 
Not only is texting and driving illegal in Georgia, but it’s also against the law to have a cell phone or similar form of technology (like a tablet or GPS device) in your hands while you drive. This is part of the Hands-Free Georgia Act which took effect in July of 2018. 
If you’re caught with your phone in your hand while driving in Georgia, you’ll be fined $50 for a first offense and receive one point against your Georgia driver’s license. A second conviction within 24 months will result in a $100 fine. 
MORE: Texting and driving laws, explained

Penalties for violating Georgia teen driving laws

As we mentioned earlier, teens who hold a provisional driver’s license will need to uphold the responsibilities that come with it. Violating the terms of your Class D teen driver’s license in Georgia could carry the following penalties: 
  • If you’re caught driving passengers under the age of 21 who are not immediate family members, you could be subject to a 180-day license suspension which will require a $100
    reinstatement fee
  • Attempting to misrepresent your age to purchase alcohol in Georgia will result in a six-month license suspension. For a second offense, your license will be suspended for 12 months. 
  • Speeding while under a provisional license could also carry a license suspension if you were traveling especially fast. 
  • Accumulating four or more points on your provisional license within a 12-month time frame will get you a suspended license. 
  • If you’re caught driving with a suspended provisional license, you will be arrested. A minimum of two days in jail will follow—in addition to a $500 fine if you’re convicted. 
In addition to having your
license suspended
and having to pay the fees that accompany this consequence, you should also expect your
Georgia car insurance
to increase—especially if you’re a repeat offender. 
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