The moment a child gets behind the wheel for the first time is one of the most critical times in any parent's life. Teaching your child to drive may be scary, overwhelming, and incredibly time consuming, but it's a rite of passage most teens eagerly await. As a way to protect young drivers taking the first steps towards independence, most states enact special laws designed to restrict teen drivers, and Minnesota is no exception. Here's what you need to know when your teen starts driving.
No Phone Use
Most states, Minnesota included, have general laws pertaining to cell phone usage. Adults are not permitted to read text messages, check apps, or browse the web while driving, but the laws are stricter for teens. No driver under 18 is allowed to use a cell phone for any reason outside of emergency situations. This includes talking, texting, checking apps, browsing the internet, or changing songs. In addition, hands-free devices are banned; usage limitations do not depend on physical contact with a phone.
According to the new regulations passed in 2014, young drivers are first eligible to take the road test at age 16, provided all other requirements are met. However, passing this test no longer results in a full license; instead, new drivers are only licensed under a provisional license until age 18. This license provides additional limitations; for example, all drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Additional restrictions apply to things like driving hours, phone use, and passenger permissions.
Drinking and Driving
The legal limit in Minnesota may be .08% for adults age 21 or older, but for teens, there is a zero tolerance policy. Teens with an ABV of any level over 0.0% are subject to possible arrest or criminal charges, regardless of full or provisional license status. In addition, no one is permitted to operate a vehicle while consuming alcoholic beverages, regardless of the age of the driver, and no open containers are ever permitted in a vehicle.
Teen drivers are not permitted to drive freely during the overnight hours, at least not during the first six months after licensing. Regardless of state or local curfew laws in effect, between midnight and 5 am, newly licensed teens cannot be on the road unless any of the following is true:
- The driver is accompanied by an adult at least 25 years old
- The driver is driving between home and work
- The driver is driving between home and a school event in which the school has not provided transportation
- The driver is driving for an employment-related purpose, such as business travel
In an attempt to restrict possible recklessness, teens are also not permitted to transport passengers without restriction during the first six months of licensure. As new drivers, teens are only allowed to transport one passenger age 20 or younger unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or unless the individual in question is an immediate relative. During the second six months of being licensed, teen drivers can transport up to three individuals age 20 or younger.
As a parent with a teen getting ready to sit solo behind the wheel, it's only natural to be worried about his or her safety and well-being. With Minnesota driving laws in place, however, you can breathe a little bit easier knowing your teen is protected from some of the hazards on the road, even if just for the next few years.