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Teens are considered high risk drivers. More teen auto crashes occur in southern states than any other region in the U.S. To help combat teen auto crashes and fatalities, Florida was among the first few states to implement and enforce a Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program. Beginning in 1996, teens were required to go through three levels of licensing before applying for an unrestricted, permanent license. Within one year of starting the program, Florida saw a 9% decrease in the number of accidents involving teens. Continue reading to learn more about Florida’s teen driving laws and what it takes to obtain a license in the Sunshine State.
Florida Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) and Driver License Requirements
Under Florida’s Graduated Licensing (GDL) laws, teen’s aged 15 but not older than 16 must take a driver’s education course before applying for a learner’s license. After receiving the learner’s license, the teen must complete 50 hours of supervised driving with ten hours to be completed at night. The teen must hold the learner’s license for one full year. Once the year is complete and all other requirements have been met, a parent or guardian must sign a form stating that the teen has successfully completed the practice hours.
Teens between the ages of 16-17 are eligible to apply for a restricted class E license only after all learner’s license requirements have been met and the teen has maintained a perfect driving record.
To obtain a learner’s license, you must:
• Obtain parental consent (parents must fill out and sign the parental consent form)
• Pass a traffic law and substance abuse education course (written proof will be required)
• Provide a social security card
• Provide proof of residence
• Pass a written test
• Pass a vision test
• Pay a $27 fee (fee covers all licenses to follow)
Florida Teen Driving Laws and Enforcement
In the state of Florida, teens with a learner’s license must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Once you receive your restricted class E license, you cannot drive between the hours of 11 pm. and 6 p.m. if you are 16 years of age. If you are 17, you cannot drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The only exception to these rules are if you are driving to and from work. In these cases, you must drive with a licensed driver, age 21 or older. He must ride in the front passenger seat at all times. Once the teen reaches the age of 18, the restrictions will be lifted.
If a you violate any of the restrictions above, your unrestricted driving privileges could be delayed for up to one year. If you receive a traffic conviction while holding a learner’s license, the one year period will be automatically extended for one year from the date of conviction or until your 18th birthday –whichever period is longer. Violations cold also lead to points on your license. If you receive 6 points on your record within a one year period, your driving privileges will automatically be restricted to business purposes for one year or until your 18th birthday, whichever happens first.
Florida also has penalties for truancy. If you are truant in school attendance, your license will be suspended until you provide proof that you have attended school for 30 consecutive days.
Florida Cell Phone Use/Texting While Driving Laws
In the state of Florida, it is perfectly legal to talk on your cell phone as long a you have the phone up to one ear, and you can hear with the other. It is also legal to text while driving, for now. The state is in the process Florida Senate Bills 172 and 1578. If passed, SB 172 would prohibit cell phone use without a headset or hands free a accessory. SB 1578 would make it illegal to text or receive texts while driving. Penalties for first and second offenses are also being reviewed.
Florida Teen DUI Laws
In the state of Florida, it is a crime for a teen to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of 0.02% or higher. A BAC of 0.02% in the state of Florida means you are “legally drunk,” whether you pass all field sobriety tests or not. A BAC of 0.02% is as little as one beer, one glass of wine or one mixed drink for most people.
If you get caught driving with a BAC of 0.02% or higher in Florida, your license will be suspended immediately for 6 months. For a second offense, you will lose your driving privileges for one full year. If you refuse an officer’s request for a chemical test, under Florida’s implied consent law, you will automatically lose your license for one full year – for a first offense. For a second, you risk losing your license for 18 months.
Fines range from $250 up to $5,000 for multiple offenses. The judge might also order community service, jail time at a juvenile detention center, and/or interlock.
Florida Teen Auto Insurance Requirements
It doesn’t matter if a vehicle is registered in the teens name or the parent’s name, in the state of Florida, you must carry minimum liability coverage of $10,000 for bodily injury for one person, $20,000 for bodily injury to two or more people,
and $10,000 property damage liability (10/20/10). Because the risk of an auto collision is significantly higher during a teen’s first year behind the wheel, Florida auto insurance companies recommend purchasing higher amounts of coverage than the legal limits. If you plan to add a teen driver to your policy, keep in mind that your annual rate will increase anywhere from $1,200 to $4,900 a year – or an average of $2,171 a year.
Although auto insurance premiums will increase if you add a teen to your policy or purchasing teen auto insurance will always be pricier than other policies, there are ways to qualify for discounts on teen auto insurance. Auto insurance companies offer discounts ranging from 10-15% or more for:
• Maintaining at least a B average
• Successful completion of a state approved safe driver course
You can also lower your premiums on teen auto insurance if you avoid purchasing sports and luxury cars for your teen, if you opt for a higher deductible, or if you combine insurance policies into one (i.e. life, home, health, renter’s, etc.).