Texas Provisional License Restrictions

Before getting your full license, you must get a provisional license. Here’s what that means for young Texas drivers.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Shannon Martin
background
Texas provisional license restrictions prevent young drivers from carrying more than one passenger under 21. They also can’t drive between midnight and 5 AM, unless for work or school purposes. But at age 18, you can transition from a provisional to a full Texas license.
Freedom is the most tangible outcome of getting a driver’s license. But before you’re free to roam, you’ll need to prove that you can be trusted behind the wheel. In Texas, that means getting a learner’s permit and then a provisional license. 
Once you reach the age of 18—and you’ve not broken any laws with your provisional license— you can finally apply for your full license. The process is pretty simple, you’ll pay a fee, pass some tests, and then smile for your photo. You must also provide proof of
car insurance
(most people just get added to a parent or guardian’s policy). That’s it!
In Texas, the rules are a little different than in other states. So here’s everything you might need to know about the Texas provisional license, including what it is, how to get one, and what you’re allowed to do with one.
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What is a provisional driver’s license in Texas?

A Texas provisional license is the second type of license in the state’s graduated driver's license (GDL) system. A driver can only receive a full license by fulfilling the
Texas driver’s license requirements
.
Here are the three levels of licensing in Texas:
  • Learner’s permit
  • Provisional license
  • Full driver’s license
A young driver can get a driver’s permit (a learner’s permit) in Texas at the age of 15, although they can start the course at age 14. This license allows a teen to practice driving with supervision. These drivers must also prove that they have a satisfactory
school attendance rate
and have enrolled in a driver training course. 
To earn a Texas provisional license, a
teen driver
must pass a road test, classroom test, and complete the
Impact Texas Drivers
(ITD) program. They must have held the learner’s permit for at least six months and be at least 16 years old. In addition, they must have performed 30 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours of after-dark driving. With a provisional license, a young driver can drive unsupervised under specific conditions.
Both the provisional license and learner’s permit expire at age 18.
Note that out-of-state drivers face additional steps to get a provisional Texas driver’s license.
You'll receive a Texas learner license if you can provide a valid out-of-state learner’s permit but no proof of a driver education course. This must be held for six months (or until age 18, whichever comes first) before the driver can apply for a provisional license.
If you can provide a valid out-of-state learner’s permit and sufficient proof of a driver education course, then you can take the driving test. Once you finish the ITD video and pass the driving test, you will receive a provisional license.
The road test involves checking your vehicle for safety, performing road maneuvers, and operating the basic functions of your car. It only takes about 20 minutes. It costs $33 to take the exam and you can
schedule a road test online
with the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
You can access a variety of
Texas driver services
online, including finding a driver’s ed course and ordering license plates.

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

You can apply for a Texas provisional driver’s license as early as 15 years old, so long as you meet the requirements.
If you’re between 18 and 24 years old, you can take an adult driver’s ed course to qualify for your full driver’s license. This step is mandatory for all Texas adults between the ages of 18 and 24.
If you’re 25 years or older, you are not required to take any driver’s education courses. But you will have to pass the road, written, and vision/hearing tests, just like all other Texas drivers. Therefore, you should study the
Texas Driver Handbook
to prepare for your test.

How long is a provisional license in Texas?

The provisional license will last until the driver turns 18 years old. Then, the DPS can issue a non-restricted full Texas driver’s license after you apply.
Any traffic violations during this period will incur fines and could result in a
suspended Texas license
. Then, you will have to pay for a
license reinstatement
Try to keep a
clean driving record
, starting with your provisional license.

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

If you have a provisional license in Texas, you are allowed to drive without a licensed adult in the car. However, you are still bound by certain restrictions until you turn 18 and receive a full license. 
These actions are permitted:
  • Driving with family members in the car who are under 21
  • Driving with one passenger at a time who is under 21
  • Drive between 5 AM and midnight
These actions are not permitted:
  • Driving with more than one (non-family member) passenger under the age of 21
  • Driving between midnight and 5 AM 
  • Using a cell phone or other device while driving (even if it’s hands-free)
There is a notable exception to the nighttime curfew. If you must drive to get to work, participate in a school activity, or attend to a medical emergency, you are allowed to get behind the wheel between the hours of midnight and 5 AM.
Emergency phone usage is permitted.
Texas DUI laws
are strict—and there’s a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers. A DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated) could cost you thousands of dollars in fines, not to mention jail time, license suspension, and the price for your
Texas car insurance
will skyrocket.
MORE:
9 dumb mistakes that could lead to you losing your license

What are the restrictions for a provisional license?

If you have a provisional license, you’re subject to Texas provisional license restrictions.
You may not drive between the hours of midnight and 5 AM. You must not use your cell phone or any other device while driving. You cannot carry more than one passenger under the age of 21, unless they’re related to you.
Of course, all drivers—including provisionally licensed drivers—must adhere to posted traffic signs and Texas laws. This includes
Texas seat belt laws
, which require all passengers to be properly restrained. As the driver, you are responsible for passengers 16 years of age and younger in this state—so remind your friend or young relatives to buckle up!

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

If you have turned 18, you can now change your Texas provisional license to a full license. 
If you already have a provisional license, the DPS should automatically send you a new full license once you turn 18.
Otherwise, you must apply for a full license by submitting an
application
to your local DPS branch, proving your identity, getting your photo taken, and paying the $26 fee. You may have to pass additional tests (but you’ll get three chances). Prepare to provide your thumbprint as well.
Be aware that you must also provide
proof of car insurance
which adheres to the
Texas car insurance laws
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