Young Drivers

The Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is designed to give young drivers a substantial amount of practical driving experience under the safest possible conditions. It will motivate young drivers to drive responsibly, enabling them to graduate to the next level.

Driving is a learned skill and is better taught in stages where the degree of difficulty increases as the person gains skill and confidence.

A mature driving attitude is also key to safe driving. The GDL program gives a novice driver time to understand the frustrations of the road and how to handle them calmly and safely.

Graduated Driver licensing...what is that?

On July 1, 1999, Delaware implemented a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. The GDL program is designed to provide young drivers with more on-the-road driving experience during the safest times of the day, before issuing them an unrestricted driver's license.

Why do we need more on-the-road driving experience?

Driving is a skill that must be learned with practice. Spending more time behind the wheel under the supervision of a licensed driver will make you a better, safer driver. Being a better driver and driving at the safest times will mean less chance of being involved in an automobile crash.

Are young drivers more likely to be in a crash?

  • Sixteen and 17 year-old drivers represent 2% of licensed drivers in Delaware, but they have 5% of all traffic crashes.
  • Sixteen and 17 year-old drivers in Delaware are 44% more likely than older drivers to experience a crash between 9 p.m. and midnight.
  • In nearly 20% of injury crashes experienced by 16 year-old drivers in Delaware, there were three or more occupants in the vehicle.

The high crash rates among young drivers can be blamed on several factors:

  • Inexperience
  • Night driving
  • Too many passengers
  • Poor judgement
  • Driving during high risk hours

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people in Delaware. The GDL program will enable young drivers to develop their decision-making skills gradually and gain confidence in their driving abilities in stages.

What do I do to get my Delaware Class D (Unrestricted) driver's license?

There are four steps involved in obtaining your license. Each step is designed to help you gain the experience and confidence you need to make you a good driver.

Step one is to successfuly complete a state approved driver education program and receive your blue certificate. Then, take the blue certificate, your original birth certificate and your social security card to the DMV and apply for the Level One Learner's Permit. (There is a $12.50 application fee and your sponsor must sign the application.)

Step two involves supervised driving at all times with your Delaware Level One Learner's Permit for 6 months.

Step three is driving with your Delaware Level One Learner's Permit for 6 months unsupervised during daytime hours and supervised during night hours (10 pm-6 am).

Step four is removing your class D license from the sealed packet 12 months after the issue date.

When can I start the GDL program?

You must be at least 15 years and 10 months old to begin the GDL program. After completing the GDL program, you must be at least 16 years and 10 months to obtain your Class D unrestricted license.

Who qualifies to supervise my driving?

Your licensed parent or guardian or a licensed driver at least 25 years old who has held a Class D driver's license for a minimum of 5 years and is approved by your sponsor can all be your supervising driver.

Can I drive with my friends and family?

During the first 6 months with your Delaware Level One Learner's Permit, only your supervising driver and 2 other people may be in the car with you. Your supervisor must be in the front seat with you whenever the car is in motion. During the second 6 months, no more than 2 passengers may be with you during unsupervised driving.

What happens if I don't follow the Learner's Permit rules?

Be cool...follow the rules! If you don't, your permit will be suspended for two months. If there are future offenses, your permit will be suspended for four months for each offense.

Note: Under the new law, teenagers who have received their licenses before July 1, 1999 may still be subject to certain penalties under the law until their eighteenth birthday. Such penalties include suspending a minor's license based on a reduced point system, when the Division of Motor Vehicles has reason to believe that the minor is operating a vehicle in a reckless or negligent manner.

What does the Delaware Level One Learner's Permit look like?

The Delaware Level One Learner's Permit is your Class D License sealed inside a plastic folder. After fulfilling your 12 month period under supervision with the Delaware Level One Learner's Permit, your Class D license is valid. You will then have full driving privileges and may remove it from the sealed plastic folder without having to return to the DMV. Removing the license from the sealed folder under any other circumstances may result in a license suspension!

The role of the sponsor

  • The sponsor who signs the Level One Learner's Permit application has the final authority to determine if the minor is capable of operating a motor vehicle.
  • The sponsor will designate who can supervise the minor driver. The sponsor may also be the supervisor.
  • The sponsor can withdraw their endorsement at any time, thereby canceling the license of the minor driver, until the driver reaches the age of 18.
  • The sponsor's role is important in the development of the driver's skills and their ability to avoid accidents and injury.

For more information contact the Division of Motor Vehicles at (302) 744-2506

< Back