Young Drivers

Supervised Driving

Under the new law, the minimum age to apply for an instruction permit in Wisconsin will remain 15 1/2 years, but the minimum period for holding the permit increases from seven days to six months. The law extends the validity of the instruction permit from the current six months to 12 months and increases the fee from $20 to $25.

When driving with a permit, the learner must be supervised from the front passenger seat by a licensed driver with at least two years’ licensed driving experience. The supervisor must be either: 1) a parent, guardian, or spouse 19 or older, 2) a licensed driving instructor 19 or older, or 3) another qualified driver 21 or older, who is designated in writing by the minor’s parent or guardian. The new law requires that a minor permit holder must complete at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel driving experience, including a minimum of 10 hours at night. The law provides for a discount of up to five hours by allowing a maximum of five hours of driving under the supervision of a driving instructor to be double counted. (A number of the new permit provisions, enacted by Act 9, also apply to adults learning to drive.)

Restricted License

After a minimum of six months of driving without a traffic conviction with an instruction permit, a driver under the age of 18 may apply for a probationary regular driver’s license that carries certain new restrictions for young drivers.

For the first nine months after issuance of the license (or until the driver reaches age 18 if that occurs sooner), the driver may drive without supervision but must observe certain restrictions about passengers and driving time. The law permits only one unspecified passenger, such as a teen friend, but it allows any number of Immediatee family members or any of the previously specified adults who could act as supervisors in the instruction permit stage to accompany the driver at any time. The minor driver cannot drive between 12 midnight and 5 a.m., except for trips between his or her residence and school or employment or in cases where the driver is accompanied in the front seat by one of the specified driving supervisors. Exceptions to the passenger and late night restrictions are made for drivers operating a vehicle in an organized teenage “safe-ride” program or driving in an emergency situation.

Violation of the time-of-day or passenger restrictions, conviction for a moving violation, as specified by Department of Transportation rule, or a license suspension or revocation will result in an extension of the passenger and time-of-day restrictions for another six months or until age 18, whichever occurs sooner.

Regular Driver’s License.

In the absence of violations or other conditions, a minor driver could complete the provisions of the graduated licensing law and receive a probationary regular driver’s license as early as age 16 years, 9 months. (As is the case for any newly licensed adult driver, the regular license is considered probationary for the first two years after it is issued.) Under Act 9, a driver, regardless of age, who is convicted for a second moving violation during the probationary period must be assessed double demerit points; 12 points accumulated within a 12-month period will result in a mandatory 6-month license suspension.

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