What is the Driving Age in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, you must be 16 years old to start the Graduated Drivers License program to receive an unrestricted license by age 18.
Written by Shannon Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Like most other states,
has the graduated driver's license program in place to help teen drivers—starting at 16 years old—work toward an unrestricted driver’s license by age 18. 
For new, young drivers, getting a learner’s permit (then an official driver’s license!) is an incredibly exciting milestone. But because the laws for teen drivers vary from state to state, age requirements and mandatory steps aren’t always uniform across the country. 
That’s why
, the licensed broker app for
car insurance
, has outlined everything you’ll need to do to get your instructional permit and provisional driver’s license in Massachusetts.  
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What is the driving age in Massachusetts?

Unlike other states, the minimum driving age in Massachusetts is 16 years old. You may begin the graduated driver's license program only once you have hit this milestone. To apply for a
full, unrestricted license
directly, you must be 18 years or older

What is the Graduated Drivers License program in Massachusetts?

The Graduated Driver's License (GDL) program is designed to gradually teach new drivers how to handle different driving experiences so they can drive on their own as safely as possible.
According to the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
car accidents
are the second leading cause of death among teen drivers. The GDL program aims to lower those numbers. 
To do so, the GDL program both permits and requires teen drivers to have monitored driving experience before they can acquire full driving privileges. This usually involves three stages: 
  • Learner’s permit stage: limited, instructed driving while supervised
  • Junior operator (provisional) license
    stage: limited, unsupervised driving
  • Full standard license stage: unrestricted and unsupervised driving

How to get your learner’s permit in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, drivers under the age of 18 must apply for a learner’s permit and comply with the requirements of the GDL program through the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). This allows new drivers limited driving privileges so that they can gain the experience needed to obtain a full standard driver’s license. 
Before you or your teen driver head to the
nearest Massachusetts RMV
for that learner’s permit, though, you must first: 
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Decide if you want a
    Massachusetts REAL ID
    or standard permit 
  • Bring a completed
    learner’s permit application
    —you may also complete your application online 
  • Bring acceptable
    proof of identification
  • Take your learner’s permit exam—you may also take the exam online, but you will still need to verify your identity in person 
  • Pass a vision test—screening field vision and basic colors 
  • Pay the $30 application fee
  • Be prepared to have your learner’s permit photo taken
To study up before your learner’s permit exam, be sure to read and re-read
Massachusett’s Class D driver’s manual
You will need to answer at least 18 questions correctly within 25 minutes to pass—this means you can’t get more than seven questions wrong. If you fail the exam, you will be given instructions afterward on how to take it again and how much you will need to pay. 
You may also request extended time or a paper or oral exam if you have a cognitive or physical disability that may impair you from taking the standard exam. To do so, speak to a representative at the RMV or call (857) 368-8105 and leave a message detailing your information and the specifics of your request. 
Once you have successfully passed your learner’s permit exam, you will officially receive your instructional learner’s permit—a big step toward hitting the road on your own! 

Learner’s permit restrictions

As a learner’s permit holder, you are only permitted to drive accompanied by a licensed driver
This driver must:
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have at least one year of driving experience
  • Sit in the passenger seat beside the driver 
Additionally, the permit holder may not drive between midnight and 5am unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who meets the requirements listed above. The permit holder may not operate a vehicle in another state unless it is permitted under that state’s law, and they must have their learner’s permit on them at all times while driving. 
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How to get your Junior Operator License in Massachusetts

Once you’ve successfully acquired your Massachusetts learner’s permit, you can now work toward getting your Junior Operator License! 
This stage of the GDL implements another set of requirements for teen drivers. Applicants must:
  • Be at least 16 ½ years old
  • Maintain a valid learner’s permit for at least six consecutive months 
  • Maintain a
    clean driving record
    for at least six consecutive months before the road test 
  • Complete an
    approved driver’s education program
    , including at least:
  • 30 hours of classroom instruction 
  • 12 hours of instruction behind the wheel 
  • 6 hours of in-car observation of other student drivers  
  • Complete an additional 40 hours of supervised driving behind the wheel 
  • You will need to show proof of this time via a certified statement by a parent or guardian 
  • You may alternatively complete 30 hours of parent/guardian supervised driving if you also complete a
    driver skills development program
  • Have a parent or guardian participate in 2 hours of the applicant’s driver’s ed instruction (unless they have already done so within the last 5 years) 
  • Pay a $35 application fee 
  • Pass the road test
  • You can
    schedule your road test online
    or by calling the RMV at (866) 627-7768 
  • Bring your learner’s permit, a completed road test application, a sponsor, and a
    registered vehicle
    to the road test  
  • Refer to the
    RMV’s road test checklist
    before your test. If you fail your road test, you will have to wait two weeks before trying again. Drivers are only allowed six road test attempts in 12 months.
    Key Takeaway: You’ll generally need to complete a valid driver’s ed program and 40 hours of supervised driving before you can take your road test. 

    Junior Operator License restrictions

    Once you’ve passed that road test, you’re officially a licensed driver! However, if you’re under age 18, you will receive a provisional Junior Operator License (JOL) until you’re old enough for a standard license.
    Your JOL operates almost identically to a standard license, but with certain limitations in place. Namely:
    • You cannot carry passengers under age 18 (unless they’re your siblings) for six months after receiving your Junior Operator License (JOL)
    • You cannot drive between 12:30am and 5am unless a parent or guardian is with you 
    • You are not permitted to use any mobile electronic device while driving—even if it is hands-free
    These restrictions are intended to prevent distractions or other conditions, like drowsiness, that could lead to dangerous driving.
    Safety for teen drivers is a significant concern in Massachusetts—alongside every other state in the country—so the
    Junior Operator License law
    helps new drivers avoid risky conditions on the road while they’re still gaining experience. 

    Hardship licenses

    When you have a provisional Junior Operator License, offenses like
    drinking and driving (DUI)
    come with stricter consequences, like license suspension—even for a first offense. If your
    license is suspended
    , you may be able to apply for a hardship license in Massachusetts. 
    There are certain criteria you must meet, however, depending on your situation. You can find the RMV’s case-by-case hardship license eligibility requirements in the linked checklists below: 
    Once you have applied for a hardship license, you will need to schedule and attend a hearing at
    select RMV sites
    Note, that if you are granted a hardship license after this hearing, you will be responsible for
    license reinstatement
    fees as determined by
    Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 90, Section 33
    . These fees range between $100.00 and $1,200.00

    How to save on car insurance in Massachusetts

    Now that you’ve got your shiny new Massachusetts license in your wallet, you’re ready to hit the road! Before you do, though, you’ll need to make sure you
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    Unlike many other states, you cannot get your learner’s permit at 15 in Massachusetts—the minimum age to apply for a Class D permit is 16 years old.
    It depends. Massachusetts drivers who have their learner’s permit may not drive alone regardless of their age—they must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is over 21 years old at all times. 
    Teen drivers who have received their Junior Operator License, however, may drive alone UNLESS it is between the hours of 12:30am and 5am. In this case, they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 
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