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Q

I currently hold a junior license in Pennsylvania. If I am in an accident between 11 PM and 5 AM, will my insurance still cover me?


A

Yes, normally even if you are cited for driving against the restrictions of your junior license your insurance coverage would still be in effect. To make certain though about your specific policy you should read through the terms and speak to your agent.

In general, if you break the restrictions of your junior license or of a learner permit and are in an accident it is similar to someone else breaking a law in such as failing to yield the right of way and being in an accident. Though this is a violation of the law the accident would normally still be covered. With either offense you should be cited for the illegal act but your insurance coverages will usually cover the incident.

As you are aware the following requirements apply to all 16- and 17-year-old junior license holders in Pennsylvania:

  • All junior drivers are restricted from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Second, there are mandatory sanctions against all high-risk drivers under the age of 18, regardless of whether they hold a permit, a junior license or an unrestricted license. A junior license holder's operating privileges will be suspended for 90 days if he or she accumulates six points or is convicted of a single high speed violation (26 miles per hour or more over the speed limit).
  • Third, all drivers under 18, regardless of the type of license they hold, must ensure the number of passengers in their vehicle does not exceed the number of seat belts.

If you have a job that requires them to travel or return home after 11 p.m. you can get permission to drive after that hour with a PA junior license. This can be done provided that the junior driver has a certificate of authorization or affidavit from his or her employer documenting the work schedule. Junior drivers should keep this documentation with them at all times. This exception to the nighttime driving restriction also applies to teens involved in fire fighting or volunteer, charitable service, who must also carry the same type of documentation.

The penalty for driving after 11 p.m. on a junior license is that upon conviction of violating the nighttime driving restriction, junior drivers are subject to a $25 fine and could receive two points on his or her driving record. The young driver would be responsible for paying this fine plus associated costs and fees. Also please keep in mind that, under the law, a junior driver is not eligible for an unrestricted license until he or she either:

  1. completes a state-approved driver's education course and maintains a crash-and conviction-free driving record for one year, or
  2. reaches the age of 18, whichever comes first. Therefore, being convicted of violating the nighttime driving restriction would severely limit a young driver's opportunity for obtaining a full, unrestricted license before his or her 18th birthday.

The Driver and Vehicles Services division of PennDOT can give you more information on the penalties associated with driving against your restrictions while your insurance agent can give you information about if you will be covered for accidents that take place during the restricted hours.


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