The New York Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not list any certain amount of time that you must hold your learner's permit however you must accomplish a few things before you can move up to the next level of the graduated driver licensing (GDL) system.
The NYS DMV notes that once you receive a learner's permit you need to practice for the road test to move up to the next license level. You must also take a driver education course or a DMV-approved pre-licensing course.
So before you can make a road test appointment, you must first complete an approved pre-licensing safe driving course. This requirement is automatically fulfilled as part of every high school or college driver education course. All other drivers must complete this requirement by taking a special five-hour course available at most professional driving schools. After you take the course, you will receive a certificate to present when you make your road test appointment. The certificate is valid for one year.
Once you have a NYS permit the DMV recommends that you practice at least 30 hours for your road test. Practice at least 10 hours in medium to high volume traffic. You can practice with a driver who has enough driving experience, but the DMV recommends that you take professional driving lessons. Most new drivers fail their road test because they were not prepared.
When you are ready for the road test a DMV motor vehicle license examiner will conduct it. You must bring a vehicle to drive during the road test. The vehicle must be properly registered, inspected, insured and equipped, and in good working order, including doors and seat belts. You must also bring an accompanying driver who is at least 21 years old and holds a license valid for operating the vehicle you will drive during the road test. Motorcycle applicants must bring a car or truck and an accompanying licensed driver to transport the license examiner during the test.
After your road test, the examiner will inform you of the results. If you did not pass, you can schedule another road test. If you do not pass the second road test, you must pay a $10 fee to take a maximum of two more road tests.
Learner permits are issued for five years so you should have plenty of time to practice and move up to the next step of the NYS GDL process which would be either the limited junior license or full junior license. So the junior license is the conditional license you would appear to be speaking of in your question.
If you pass your road test during your first six months of valid permit status, you will be issued a limited junior license (Limited Class DJ or MJ). This limited license is subject to the regional restrictions as well as other conditions. When your learner permit and limited license, combined, are valid for six months, the DMV will automatically send you a full junior license (Class DJ or MJ) by mail. If you pass your road test after six months of valid permit status, you will be issued a full junior license.
So you can hold your learner's permit for less than six months before trying to take the road test and move up to the limited junior license if you have taken the mandatory driver education course and practiced for the road test. Or if you wait until you have had it 6 months than you can move up to the full junior license but still you would have had to practice for the road test and taken a driver's education course.
According to the NYS driver's manual, no matter what age you are if you hold a learner permit in NY you may not drive:
- Unless you are accompanied by a supervising driver at least age 21 who has a license valid for operating the vehicle you are driving. For example, only a person with a motorcycle license may supervise a motorcycle learner.
- In a DMV road test area.
- On any street within a park in New York City, or any bridge or tunnel under the jurisdiction of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.
- On the Cross County, Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River, or Taconic State parkways in Westchester County.
With a junior learner permit or junior license:
- You may not drive with more than two passengers under age 21 unless they are members of your immediate family, or if your accompanying driver is your licensed parent, guardian, person "in loco parentis," driver education teacher or driving school instructor.
- You and each passenger must wear a seat belt: one per person. Every passenger under age four must be in a properly installed child restraint seat.
- If you hold a junior permit or a limited junior license, the only passenger allowed in the front seat is your accompanying driver.
There are also other special rules for drivers with junior permits and licenses which you can read about in the New York State new driver's brochure.
It does not appear there is a minimum time in which to hold your learner's permit in New York. As long as you have followed the guidelines for moving up to a conditional license, including practiced enough and taken the driver's education course that is required by NYS, you can take a try at the road test to move up to the limited junior license before 6 months have passed. For more information on the licensing process in New York contact the DMV directly. Find out about New York car insurance at our state page.