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What are the restrictions on California drivers under the age of 18?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2023 | Car Accidents

California has a graduated driver’s license system. The design is to help young drivers gain experience and limit potentially dangerous activity to help them avoid accidents.

For drivers ages 16 and 17, the state places limits and rules on their licenses. All underage drivers must adhere to these restrictions, or they could face penalties.

Other in the vehicle

A new driver cannot have anyone in the vehicle with them who is under the age of 20 unless there is a parent or licensed driver over the age of 25 also in the car. The rule helps to avoid carloads of teens, which has been shown to be a factor in accidents due to the potential for distraction.


Underage drivers also have limits on the time of day they can drive. The law states they are not allowed behind the wheel from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am.

Other rules

The graduated license system bans drivers who are 16 or 17 from driving for pay. They also lose privileges if they get into an accident or get a ticket. They would no longer be able to drive without a parent.


The law does offer some leeway in certain situations. Young drivers can get a signed note to exempt them from certain rules. For example, if the person needs to drive outside of the allowed hours, an employer note could allow them to do so. Another excusable situation may be an emergency situation.

If a minor does not follow the graduated license restrictions, it could result in losing driving privileges.