Learning how to drive and getting a shiny new driver’s license is one of the major milestones in life. It’s also a huge step toward independence for teens and higher insurance costs for mom and dad. The process of obtaining a basic driver’s license in New Jersey is not especially difficult, but it isn’t exactly easy either. It’s pulling up the rear on the top 20 hardest licenses to get, so it’s somewhere in the middle. Since it’s slightly complicated, here is a quick guide to give you everything you need to ensure your teen’s success at the MVC agency. Here are the steps for getting a New Jersey driver’s license and the rules to follow.
My first son received his graduated driver’s license back in September and some recent events have given me a new understanding of NJ driving laws as they pertain to newer drivers. Let’s just say that what you’re told at the DMV may not always be correct. I’m updating this guide to getting a driver’s license in New Jersey based on our family’s experience over the past year.
As my second son goes through this process we’ll continue to make updates, just in case anything changes.
How to Get a Driver’s License in New Jersey
To get a New Jersey driver’s license, your teen must first take a high school driving course or enroll in a licensed driving school.
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Need an online driver’s ed course?
First, if your teen can’t take a traditional driver’s ed course at school, there are online options. Or maybe the high school offers one but the schedule isn’t convenient for you. When my first son was a soon-to-be driver, driver’s ed courses were offered after school at the same time as his sports practice.
There are now ways to take driver’s ed courses online. Driversed.com provides one of those options.Your teen can start earning their license now. Driversed.com’s state-approved online drivers ed is fun and easy to follow. Learn at your own pace and get everything you need to become a safe, confident driver. Click here to learn more.
After the Driver’s Ed course, then what?
After completing a driver’s ed course, teenagers can begin the three-step process of obtaining a basic license. This takes over a year to do, so encourage your teen to apply for a student learner’s permit as soon as they become eligible at the age of 16.
The path to becoming a driver in New Jersey includes lots of practice, written tests, and identification proof. You will also need to pay a fee with each upgrade starting with a $10 permit fee.
To pass the written test, you will need to study the driving manual, which covers the safe driving rules in New Jersey. Before you take the formal knowledge exam, take this sample test to help you check your knowledge level. The full test consists of 50 multiple choice questions, and you are allowed to miss 10. If you get fewer than 40 questions correct, you are able to reschedule to retake the exam.
The best time to schedule your exam is in the morning when your brain is the most active. But that advice only helps you beat the test and get your New Jersey driver’s license if you have the knowledge, to begin with.
Before you get your basic license, you need to begin with a permit so you can start putting in your time toward the other two stages. Each stage has its own set of specific requirements, so make sure you follow each one carefully. Before you go to the MVC, make sure you have proof of address and your social security number. You will also need 6 points of Identification.
How to get 6 points of ID for a New Jersey driver’s license
There are primary and secondary forms of ID. You will need to bring at least one primary ID to obtain your permit. Each type of ID has a point value. Birth certificates and US passports each have a 4 point value. There are accepted forms of ID for both US citizens and non-US citizens. You can use no more than two secondary forms of ID.
3 Stages From Permit to New Jersey Driver’s License
To Get a Driving Permit in NJ
Bring your 6 points of ID, proof of address, $10, and completed application to the MVC/DMV. There you will submit a BA-412D form, which they provide at the office. You will also take a vision test and a written test. Some schools give the written test as part of their driver’s ed course.
After the written test, you will need 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor in a dual-controlled vehicle. Most behind-the-wheel training instructors will take your teen to the DMV during the first day of lessons to get their permit. This way your teen can start practicing with a licensed driver after their first lesson.
To Get a Probationary New Jersey Driver’s License
To get a probationary license, you must have 6 months of supervised driving experience. Check out these scenic drives in New Jersey, beautiful to see and great for driving experience. It’s worth noting that you cannot get a New Jersey driver’s license until you are 17 years of age. After you put in 6 months, you can take a road test. You will need your permit and a completed road test to get to the next level: probationary license.
Grab one of these driving logs
If you’re looking for an easy way for your teenager to track his time driving, grab one of these student driving logs from Amazon.
At the MVC, provide proof of a successful road test along with another completed application, proof of address, 6 points of ID, and a $6 fee. No new knowledge test is required.
One special thing to note, at the DMV/MVC parents/other adults are not allowed to go in with their teen who is getting their driver’s license. I’m not sure if this is a new procedure as a result of COVID or not. When my teen went in to obtain his license I was not allowed to accompany him. We actually had to make a second trip because the staff did not feel his id was adequate. On the return visit, I was still not allowed in. When your teen is ready to get their probationary license make sure they have more than adequate id to avoid having to make a return visit.
To Get a Basic New Jersey Driver’s License
The steps to obtaining a basic New Jersey driver’s license are similar to the ones you take for a probationary license. However, you need one full year of driving. After you have had your probationary license for at least a year, you can once again submit an application for a license and pay a prorated upgrade fee to finally get your basic license.
The Rules for Supervised and Probationary Driving
When you have your permit, you cannot drive unless you are accompanied in the front seat by a passenger at least 21 years of age with a valid New Jersey driver’s license and three years of driving experience.
There are time conditions for both supervised and unsupervised driving that permit carriers and probationary licensees must follow. Driving after 11:01 pm and before 5:00 am is prohibited unless necessary for work or religious purposes.
Parents/legal guardians and dependents are allowed as passengers during the probationary driving period. Only one other passenger is allowed unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. This rule also applies to siblings. In other words, while your teen has a probationary license they can ONLY have one sibling in the car with them UNLESS the driver is accompanied by a parent, guardian, or adult who has had a full license for at least three years.
In addition to these rules, electronics– including cell phones and other wireless devices are not permitted even if they are hands-free. Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times.
The state of New Jersey also requires supervised and unsupervised probationary drivers to display reflectorized decals on the front and back license plates. These cost $4 per pair, and you will get them at the MVC agency where you obtain your permit or probationary license.
Infographic – The Rules for Supervised and Probationary Driving
This NJ Graduated Driver’s License infographic and brochure lays out some of the basic information parents and new drivers need to know. I wish it was something that was shared by the DMV/MC.
The Long Road Ahead
It’s a bit of a lengthy process to get a full driver’s license, but the transition from one step to the next is fairly smooth. The hardest part is passing the knowledge exam and getting that first permit. Before you go to the MVC agency closest to you, go to the agency list and make sure there are openings for the day you plan to go in. For more information about these licensing centers, read up on all the Frequently Asked Questions.
Remember to arrive prepared with all the documents you need and study well before applying. Best of luck to you and your soon-to-be teenage driver!
Points, Tickets, and Auto Accidents
“Teens crash 4 times more often than any other age group,” the DMV brochure tells you. What they don’t tell you is that it’s not always the teen’s fault. Prepare your teen driver for what to say and do after an accident occurs or in the event they are ever pulled over. Make sure they know where all the required documents are: license, registration, and proof of insurance.
At the time of an accident, especially a first accident, it’s easy for a teen to be intimidated by officers and other drivers. It’s easy for officers to just assume that the young driver is at fault and to issue a ticket. Teach your child how to advocate for himself/herself. If a ticket is being issued and it’s not clear why, have your teen ask.
Unlike a motor vehicle violation ticket for a fully licensed driver, points and fines can not be negotiated. If your teen, receives a ticket with points, while in the probationary status, your teen will have two options. They can plead guilty and pay the ticket or plead not guilty and go to trial.
Either scenario requires an initial pretrial session with the county prosecutor who handles motor vehicle violations. Where a standard licensed driver could mail in a check for their fine and ticket, a probationary licensed driver can not. There will be an initial court date scheduled. In Atlantic County, these happen over Zoom and are scheduled at the discretion of the court and often happen during school hours.
I hope your teen never has an accident or encounters a scenario in which they might be issued a ticket, but it’s best if they are prepared.
Great products for New New Jersey Teen Drivers & Their Families
5 Great products For new drivers in New Jersey
Roadside Safety Bundle from MAGLITE
The Roadside Safety Bundle from MAGLITE includes a Mini Maglite PRO 2 AA-Cell LED Flashlight and 2 AA-Cell batteries, a Maglite ML300L 2 D-Cell LED Roadside Safety Kit which includes the ML300L 2 D-Cell LED Flashlight, a red traffic light wand, a white area light wand, D-Cell mounting brackets and 2 D-Cell batteries, and a Gerber Multi-Tool with carrying case. The bundle also includes a free Vehicle Safety Risk Assessment Checklist published by American Tactical Defense. Let’s prepare our teens to be ready for any situation. Get it on the MAGLITE website.
New Driver Key Chain
- Sweet Guardian Keychain Angel Keychain
- Have Fun Be Safe Don’t do stupid Keychain
- New Driver Keychain Gift
- New Driver Keychain Gift CJ&M brand
The Driving Book: Everything New Drivers Need to Know but Don’t Know to Ask
How to Drive Safely: 49 Expert Tips, Tricks, and Advice for New, Teen Drivers
New Driver Visor Clips
- See Amazon options for new driver visor clips.