Knowing the laws can make it easier to get your teen's Indiana license.

Indiana State Driving Laws for Teens

by Holly L. Roberts

Indiana’s teen driving laws may be tough compared to laws in some other states, but the stricter laws have significantly reduced the number of car accidents involving young drivers, according to Matt Nagle, senior policy analyst at the Indiana Public Policy Institute and author of a 2011 report on the effect of teen driving laws in Indiana in 2011, in a University of Indiana press release. Knowing the laws can help take some of the stress out of getting your teen’s first driver’s license.

Learner’s Permit Requirements

Unless your teen is older than 18, she’ll need to hold a learner’s permit for at least 180 days before she can get a probationary driver’s license. Teens can get an Indiana learner’s permit as early as age 15 if they are enrolled in an approved driver education program. To get a permit, your teen will need to visit a Bureau of Motor Vehicles office with proof of identification and residency. She’ll take a vision test and an examination that tests her knowledge of state driving laws. You don’t need an appointment to take these tests. If your teen is younger than 18 years old, you or her legal guardian will need to sign an agreement of financial liability, indicating that you will take responsibility for any damages caused by your teen’s driving. Learner’s permits cover driving in approved driver education programs with a certified instructor riding beside her in the front seat and driving with a parent or guardian who is licensed and over 21 years of age beside her in the front seat. If your teen is 18 or older, she can ride with any licensed driver older than 21 in the front seat.

Probationary License Requirements

If your teenager has completed an approved driver education program and held a learner’s permit for 180 days -- about six months -- he can take the test for his probationary license when he is 16 years and 180 days old. Teens who don’t take an approved driver education program have to wait an additional three months to apply for their probationary license, until they are 16 years and 270 days old. These age limits are strictly enforced. To apply for a probationary driver’s license, teens must also submit a signed log showing that they have practiced driving with a licensed driver for at least 50 hours, including 10 hours of nighttime driving. You can download the form on the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles website. Make an appointment for your teen’s driving test on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles website or by calling a Bureau of Motor Vehicles location near you. Be sure to bring proof of identification and residency to your appointment, along with your teen’s signed driving log and learner’s permit. Your teen will also take a test examining his knowledge of state laws and a vision test. As with a learner’s permit, your child’s legal guardian will need to sign an agreement of financial liability.

Required Documentation

If your teen wants a driver’s license in Indiana, she’ll need to provide the right paperwork. You’ll need a document to prove your teen’s identity and U.S. citizenship status, such as a certified copy of her birth certificate, a U.S. passport or a foreign passport with a visa and I-94 form. Your teen will also need a document as proof of her Social Security number, such as a Social Security card or W-2 form. Your teen will also need to submit proof of Indiana residency, which is usually done with a bill, bank statement or pay stub. Since many teens won’t have these documents, you or your teen’s guardian can sign a Residency Affidavit when you go in for your teen’s license. You’ll need to show your own identification card, a birth certificate or other proof of identity, and two bills, bank statements or other proof of Indiana residency when you sign.

Rules on the Road

Teen drivers in Indiana must follow specific driving laws. Teen drivers cannot use mobile communication devices, such as cellphones, except to make emergency 911 calls. Teen drivers are not allowed on the road between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for 180 days after getting their licenses. After those 180 days have passed, teens are prohibited from driving from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. the rest of the week. Teens who are working or attending a religious event can drive during these hours, but it’s wise for your teen to carry proof of his need to drive in case he’s pulled over. The driving restrictions don’t apply to teens who are driving with a licensed Indiana driver who is 25 years old or older. Teens can’t drive passengers who aren’t in their immediate family or who are not licensed drivers at least 25 years old for the first 180 days after getting their probationary license. Teens with a probationary license must make sure all their passengers are wearing properly secured seatbelts. All probationary license rules expire when your teen driver turns 18 years old.

About the Author

Holly Roberts is an award-winning health and fitness writer whose work has appeared in health, lifestyle and fitness magazines. Roberts has also worked as an editor for health association publications and medical journals. She has been a professional writer for more than 10 years and holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in literature.

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