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Ask a Trooper: Minnesota's teen driving laws have changed over 20 years

Teens now have limits on passengers, hours allowed to drive.

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Sgt. Jesse Grabow

Question: My son just took his driver’s education class this summer. I started looking through his books and I was surprised how much has changed since I got my driver’s license 20 year ago. I really couldn’t believe it. How did I miss all the new changes? Can you talk about that? Thanks!

Answer: This is a great topic as all parents need to take an active role in their teen driver’s education. Since 2015, all Minnesota driver education providers must offer a “Supplemental Parental Curriculum” to any parent/guardian. The course helps provide the information concerning graduated driver licensing, safety risks associated with novice drivers, potential influence of adults on novice driver behaviors, and additional resources.

Common Teen Driving Laws

  • For the first six months of licensure: Only one passenger under age 20 is permitted, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • For the second six months of licensure: No more than three passengers under age 20 are permitted, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Exemption: Passengers under age 20 who are members of the driver’s immediate family are permitted.
  • Parents are encouraged to set stricter passenger limits for their newly licensed teen by not allowing any teen passengers for the first six months of licensure, and no more than one for the second six months.

Minnesota’s nighttime limits for teens:

  • For the first six months of licensure: Driving is prohibited between midnight-5 a.m.
  • Exemptions: Driving when accompanied by a licensed driver age 25 or older; driving between home and place of employment; driving to/from home and a school event for which the school has not provided transportation; driving for employment purposes.
  • More than half of all fatal crashes that occur at night and involve 16-year-olds happen before midnight. Parents are encouraged to set stricter nighttime driving limits for their newly licensed teen beginning at 9 or 10 p.m.

Due to inexperience, distractions and risk-taking, teens are a part of an unfortunate group of drivers in Minnesota statistically speaking. In 2019, teens age 15-19 made up just 6% of all licensed drivers. Yet they made up 16% of all drivers involved in traffic crashes. As parents, it’s important to continue educating and driving with your teen driver, even after they receive their license. Together we can help our teen drivers get home safely at the end of the day.
Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota to: Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol , 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. Follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at jesse.grabow@state.mn.us.

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