Massachusetts Provisional License

A Massachusetts provisional license, or learner’s permit, is the first step in getting your Massachusetts driver’s license. Click here to find out more!
Written by Brian Hicks
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
In order to get a driver’s license in
Massachusetts
, you must first get a provisional driver’s license, also known as a learner’s permit. If you’re under 18 years old, you can also get a Junior Operator’s License (JOL) before you receive your full driver’s license.
Some states use a three-step licensing process, but others, including Massachusetts, only have two official steps for licensing. Whether you end up getting a JOL or go straight from a learner’s permit to a full license depends on your age. Either way, you’ll have to hold a learner’s permit for at least six months.
Keep reading to find out how to get a provisional license in Massachusetts and familiarize yourself with the restrictions you’ll face while holding one.
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What is a provisional driver’s license in Massachusetts?

Before you can get a regular
Massachusetts driver’s license
, you’ll need to have a learner’s permit, which is Massachusetts’ form of a provisional license. If you’re under 18 but pass the learner’s permit requirements, you’ll receive a junior operator’s license, which has certain restrictions that are lifted on the holder’s 18th birthday.
To get your learner’s permit
in Massachusetts, you’ll need to show proof of ID and pass the state-mandated road knowledge test, which can be taken online. If you’re under the age of 18, you’ll need written consent from a parent or guardian. You’ll also need to pay a $30 Learner’s Permit fee.
From there, to get a junior operator’s license, there are more requirements. First, you must have had your learner’s permit for at least six months uninterrupted. If your permit gets suspended for any reason, you’ll have to start the six months over. 
You’ll also need to maintain a
clean driving record
for at least six months primary to your road test.
While you have your permit, you must complete a driver’s education program. The program must include at least 30 hours of classroom instruction, 12 hours of behind-the-wheel training, and 6 hours of in-car observation of other student drivers. Any state-sanctioned driver’s education course will meet these requirements.
On top of the course, you must drive for an additional 40 hours under the supervision of your parent or guardian.
Then, you’ll need to pass a final exam: the road test. This is a practical exam testing your driving knowledge behind the wheel. 
After completing all of these steps, you’ll be able to obtain your JOL, which you’ll have until you’re 18.

What are the age requirements for a Massachusetts provisional driver’s license?

You must be at least 16 years old
in order to get your learner’s permit in Massachusetts.
To obtain a JOL, you must be at least 16.5 but under 18 years old. Because you must hold a learner’s permit for at least six months before you can get a higher license, you cannot get a JOL before 16 years and six months, even if you complete the other requirements before then.

How long is a provisional license in Massachusetts?

A learner’s permit in Massachusetts is valid for two years. After that period has elapsed, you must reapply for a new permit. Usually, people can complete all necessary steps to achieving a junior operator license within the mandated six-month period, so permit renewals aren’t very common.
A junior operator’s license is only valid until the holder turns 18 years old. Once that happens, the JOL is automatically updated to a full driver’s license. The holder doesn’t need to do anything to update their JOL. A full license will be sent to their registered home address.

What are the rules for driving with a provisional license in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, like most states, those with a learner’s permit must always be accompanied by a licensed driver over age 21. The supervising driver cannot have a revoked or
suspended license
.
Those with a JOL have a few other road safety rules that they must abide by beyond the norm.
First, mobile devices are strictly prohibited for any reason—even if you’re using them hands-free.
Texting and driving
and general
distracted driving
laws in Massachusetts are strict for teens. A first offense comes with a $100 fine, 60-day license suspension, and a required training course. The second offense has a $250 fine and 180-day license suspension, while the third offense comes with a $500 fine and a one-year license suspension.
Speeding offenses are also taken more seriously for those with a JOL. The first offense will lead to a 90-day license suspension and a host of fees that will cost at least $725 but could get higher depending on how fast you were going.

What are the restrictions for a provisional license?

The junior operator’s license comes with two notable restrictions: the passenger restriction and the night restriction.
The passenger restriction forbids anyone with a junior operator’s license from carrying passengers under the age of 18 who aren’t siblings for the first six months they have their JOL. This rule exists to minimize distractions for young drivers.
The night restriction forbids anyone with a JOL from operating a vehicle between the hours of 12:30 AM and 5:00 AM unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. In this case, not any licensed driver over 21 will do—it must be a parent or guardian.

How do I change my Massachusetts provisional license to a full license?

If you already have your JOL, you’ll automatically get your full driver’s license upon turning 18. The state will send the license to your mailing address.
You’ll really only go from a learner’s permit straight to a full license if you started the permit process late. If you’re already 18 and still have a permit, you’ll need to (1) have your permit for at least six months and (2) pass the road test to get a full license. Since you’re already an adult, you won’t have to undergo the extra steps like completing a driver’s ed program.
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