New York, like most states, has a graduated driver’s license system. New drivers must abide by certain restrictions when driving in New York with a  junior learner permit, and those restrictions vary depending on the area where you are driving.

Like most states, young drivers are not allowed to drive alone with just a  junior learner permit in the state of New York. Instead, you need a supervising driver with you in the front seat that is at least 21 years of age and has a valid driver’s license.

These driving laws pertain to you whether you live in New York City, Westchester, Syracuse, the Finger Lakes Region or any other part of New York state.

Learn more about whether can you insure a car without a valid driver’s license in New York

Key Highlights
  • There are different driving restrictions depending on the area where you are driving.
  • Junior learner permits are valid for five years in New York.
  • Notify your insurer when you have a new driver in the house.  

What are the rules for driving with a permit in New York?

Drivers younger than 16 cannot drive in New York State, even if you hold a permit or license issued by another state.

Unlike other states, restrictions on a junior learner permit in New York vary depending on the area of New York.

For example, there are different restrictions for drivers in New York City than for drivers in upstate New York. There are currently three defined areas in New York, and restrictions vary. 

New York is divided into upstate New York, New York City and Long Island, and the state’s restrictions for each regarding drivers operating a vehicle with a junior learner permit, according to the New York DMV:

Driving with a junior learner permit in upstate New York

Here are the restrictions in upstate New York, which is defined as any county north of the NYC border:

  • New York requires that motorists with a learner’s permit must drive with a supervising driver at least age 21 who has a valid driver’s license.
  • You may not drive with a learner permit on any street within a park in New York City on 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 or in a DMV road test area.
  • You may drive in upstate New York between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. only under the direct supervision of an adult age 21 with a valid license.
  • You may drive in upstate New York between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. only under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, person “in loco parentis,” driver education teacher or a driving school instructor.
  • The only passenger in the front seat must be your supervising driver.
  • There can be no more than one passenger younger than 21 unless the passengers are members of your immediate family.
  • You can have more than one passenger younger than 21 only if your supervising driver is your parent, guardian, a person “in loco parentis,” a driver’s education teacher or a driving school instructor.
  • Every passenger wears a seat belt; one seat belt per person.
  • All children younger than 4 must ride in a federally-approved child safety seat. 

Driving with a junior learner permit in New York City

Here are the restrictions in New York City, which is defined by the five boroughs:

  • New York requires that motorists with a learner’s permit must drive with a supervising driver at least age 21 who has a valid driver’s license.
  • You may not drive with a learner permit on any street within a park in New York City on 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 or in a DMV road test area.
  • You may drive in any of the five boroughs in New York City between the hours of  5 a.m. and 9 p.m. only under the direct supervision of your parent, guardian, person “in loco parentis,” driver education teacher or a driving school instructor.
  • Drivers with a permit cannot drive in any of the five boroughs in New York City between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. under any circumstances.
  • The only passenger in the front seat must be your supervising driver.
  • There can be no more than one passenger younger than 21 unless the passengers are members of your immediate family.
  • You can have more than one passenger younger than 21 only if your supervising driver is your parent, guardian, a person “in loco parentis,” a driver’s education teacher or a driving school instructor.
  • Every passenger wears a seat belt; one seat belt per person.
  • All children younger than 4 must ride in a federally-approved child safety seat. 

Driving with a junior learner permit on Long Island

Here are the restrictions on Long Island, which includes Nassau and Suffolk County:

  • New York requires that motorists with a learner’s permit must drive with a supervising driver 21 or older who has a valid driver’s license.
  • You may not drive with a learner’s permit on any street within a park in New York City on 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 or in a DMV road test area.
  • You may drive in Nassau and Suffolk Counties between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. only under the direct supervision of your parent, guardian, a person “in loco parentis,” person authorized to be your supervising driver by your parent, guardian or person in a position of “in loco parentis” in writing, driver education teacher or a driving school instructor.
  • You cannot drive in Nassau and Suffolk counties under any circumstances between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. 
  • The only passenger in the front seat must be your supervising driver.
  • There can be no more than one passenger younger than 21 unless the passengers are members of your immediate family.
  • You can have more than one passenger younger than 21 only if your supervising driver is your parent, guardian, a person “in loco parentis,” a driver’s education teacher or a driving school instructor.
  • Every passenger wears a seat belt; one seat belt per person.
  • All children younger than 4 must ride in a federally-approved child safety seat. 

As you can see, the main differences between the areas regard driving at night (not allowed in New York City or on Long Island) and in New York City the vehicle must have dual controls. Permits in New York are valid for approximately 5 years, and you must be 16 to apply.

What are some common violations when driving with a permit in NY?

If you get caught breaking the restrictions of your permit or other moving violations the penalties can be severe.

If you get pulled over driving alone with a permit in New York, you may face a fine of not less than $75 nor more than $300 and the state may delay allowing you to obtain your junior driver license.

The penalties in New York for being ticketed for driving against your permit restrictions (unlicensed) depend upon the exact offense that you are cited for by law enforcement.

According to the New York DMV website: “Your junior permit, license or privileges will be suspended for 60 days if you are convicted of one serious traffic violation or two other violations that were committed while you held a junior permit or license.

Your junior permit, license or privileges will be revoked for 60 days if you are convicted of one serious traffic violation or two other violations within the first six months after your permit, license or privileges are restored after a suspension or revocation.

A “serious traffic violation” is normally a violation that carries three or more driver violation points. 

New York state takes cell phone usage behind the wheel seriously as well: 

  • The first conviction of a cell phone use or texting violation will result in a suspension of the driver’s license or permit for 60 days.
  • A second conviction within six months of the restoration of the license or permit (after the 120-day suspension is terminated) will result in a revocation of at least one year of a probationary license or a revocation of at least one year for a Class DJ or MJ driver license or learner permit.

Learn more about what are the penalties for expired inspection sticker in New York

Can you drive with a permit in New York City?

New York City follows the same driving laws as New York state for the most part, but there are a couple of differences. Drivers with a permit cannot drive in any of the five boroughs in New York City between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. under any circumstances. In addition, the vehicle must have dual controls (dual brakes).

What happens if you get pulled over with a permit?

If you’re caught driving alone with just a permit, law enforcement will consider you unlicensed and you could receive a citation. Depending on the jurisdiction, receiving this citation may result in a driving infraction on your record and you may have to wait longer to get your license.

How does a learner’s permit affect car insurance?

Parents should inform their car insurance company about the licensing status of any teens or new drivers in their household, including anyone with a learner’s permit.

Most insurance policies require the policyholder to notify the car insurance provider of any licensed driver in their household. According to the New York State Insurance Department, an insurer is permitted to consider all resident operators of an insured vehicle in rating an auto insurance policy. This includes a child that only has their learner’s permit.

Check out our detailed guide on can you get car insurance with a learner’s permit

– Michelle Megna contributed to this story.

Resources & Methodology

Sources:

New York State. “Department of Motor Vehicles.” Accessed October 2022.

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Contributing Researcher

Mark is a freelance journalist and analyst with over 15 years of experience covering the insurance industry. He has extensive experience creating and editing content on a variety of subjects with deep expertise in insurance and automotive writing. He has written for autos.com, carsdirect.com, DARCARS and Madtown Designs to name just a few. He is also a professional blogger and a skilled web content creator who consistently turns out engaging, error-free writing while juggling multiple projects.