New Jersey Graduated Driver License Program (GDL)

What is the New Jersey Graduated Driver License Program?

If a person is under 21 years old or has never had a driver license, New Jersey requires that they complete a period of supervised driving before getting a basic driver license. The New Jersey Graduated Driver License (GDL) program introduces driving privileges in phases.There are three options to complete the program:

Each option has different steps, but upon completion of all steps, drivers are awarded an unrestricted basic driver license.

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What restrictions are placed on my teen driver with the New Jersey Graduated Driver License Program (GDL)?

Drivers holding a GDL license have the following restrictions placed upon them:

  • May not drive between 11:01 and 5:00am.
  • May not have more than one passenger (besides his or her dependents or is accompanied by a parent or guardian)
  • May not use a cell phone (including hands free) or any other hand-held electronic device (Note: GPS systems - portable or built in - and iPods connected to a vehicle's sound system are permitted, but a teen should not make any adjustments to these devices while driving)
  • May not plea-bargain any point carrying offense

For more information on GDL requirements and restrictions click here.

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What do I need to know about the decal requirements?

The NJ Motor Vehicle Commission is distributing the decal, which must be displayed on a vehicle's front and rear license plate when a permit or probationary license holder under 21 years of age is driving.The decal can help prevent new drivers from being involved in a crash and is:

  • Affixed with a velcro system to allow for its removal when GDL holder is not behind the wheel.
  • Reflectorized so it can be seen at night
  • Non-descript (it is intended for law enforcement purposes)
  • $4 per pair at MVC agencies (Note: MVC is developing a bulk purchase program for driving and high schools, police departments and other organizations)

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Why does New Jersey require the GDL program?

Studies show that a young driver's risk of being involved in a car crash is highest within his/her first 12-24 months of driving. An average of 6,000 teens die in car crashes nationally each year.

An additional 300,000 teens sustain injuries in crashes; many of those injuries are serious and often life-altering. In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of brain injury in teens. By delaying full driving privileges so that teens can gain driving experience under low-risk conditions, comprehensive GDL programs can reduce these deaths and injuries by approximately 40%. The ultimate goal of the GDL program is to protect the lives of young drivers-and the lives of their passengers and others on the road.

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What happens if my teen driver commits a traffic offense and receives a ticket while he/she has a GDL license?

GDL holders cannot "plea down" to "no point" offenses. If a GDL holder accumulates three or more penalty points, they have to complete a driver improvement program. If they fail to complete this program, or if they accumulate additional points, it will result in suspension and postponement of their eligibility to obtain a probationary (if in the permit phase) or basic license (if in the probationary phase). In addition, violations may incur legal fees and/or higher insurance rates. This can cost thousands of dollars. GDL holders must obey all traffic rules and regulations. It can save money... and their lives.

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Are there exemptions to the nighttime driving restrictions?

If there is a proven need to drive during the prohibited time for work and/or religious purposes, exemptions do exist. For an exemption, a driver must carry a written certification on official letterhead, which is signed by an employer or religious figure.

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What happens after a new driver has satisfied the probationary driver license requirements?

After completing 12 months on the probationary license, your teen is then eligible to apply for a basic driver license. Please note that the probationary license does not automatically become a basic license. Drivers who fail to do so, will remain subject to the Probationary Driver License restrictions.

Your supervision and guidance, along with this information, can help your new driver reduce his/her risk of being involved in a crash.

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