To drive in New York, you need to be at least 16 years old and must apply for a New York driver license. This license will vary based on what you want to drive. There are several classes, such as D, which is what most people have, A, B, C, M, and E. D is the normal operating license, and JD is for operators under the age of 18.
Testing and Preparing to Drive
To get started, you should first get a learner permit. The learner permit can be used during supervised driving practice. To obtain this permit, you do need to pass a written test, which you can prepare for in advance.
After this, you must take a pre-licensing or driver education course.
Following this, and after passing a road test, you will receive an interim license. This allows you to drive until your license arrives in the mail approximately two weeks later.
To prepare for your written test, visit our partner and take a DMV Practice Test.
Graduated Driver License
New York does use a graduated driver license program for those under the age of 18. This program places restrictions on drivers who have a junior learner permit or junior driver license. The restrictions depend on two things:
- Where you plan on driving in the state
- Whether you have a learner permit or license
Your privileges will change based on where you want to drive. In Upstate New York, New York City and Long Island, there are different requirements.
Remember, the junior learner permit only allows someone under 18 to drive while supervised. The junior driver license may allow them to drive unsupervised under certain conditions.
Probationary Period for New Drivers
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles requires a probationary period for new drivers.
During this time, the first six months after you pass the road test or in order to restore a revoked license, you’ll need to drive safely and within the law. If you make any mistakes within the probationary period, you’ll lose your license for 60 days. Some of the violations you could be convicted of that would cost you your license, at least temporarily, include:
- Reckless driving
- Using a portable electronic device while driving
- Using a mobile telephone while driving
- Any two other traffic violations
If you receive a suspension, then a new, six-month probationary period will start when the revocation ends.
Remember, your first license is only valid for up to five years.
Defensive Driving Courses
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles has approved many accident prevention courses that help reduce points on your license after an offense or that can help lower your insurance premiums. Some course providers include:
- New York Safety Program
- American Safety
- National Traffic Safety Institute
There are many other programs available as well, which can be found here on this list.
These programs are approved as part of the Point and Insurance Reduction Program, or PIRP, which is also known as the Defensive Driving Course or Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course.
New York DMV Cheat Sheet for Driver’s License Test
I. Traffic Signs and Signals
Stop Signs: Red octagons always come to a complete stop.
- Yield Signs: Red and white triangles, slow down and give right-of-way.
- Speed Limit Signs: Black and white rectangular signs, posted speed limits.
- Regulatory Signs: White rectangles with black lettering, indicate rules and regulations.
- Warning Signs: Yellow diamonds, indicate potential hazards or changes in road conditions.
- Construction Signs: Orange diamonds or rectangles, indicate construction zones.
- Guide Signs: Green, blue, or brown rectangles, provide information about destinations, services, or points of interest.
- Traffic Signals: Red (stop), yellow (caution), green (go). Know the meaning of flashing signals and arrow signals.
II. Traffic Laws and Rules
- Always wear seatbelts.
- Obey posted speed limits.
- Follow the right-of-way rules:
a. At four-way stops, first-come, first-served.
b. Yield to pedestrians and cyclists.
c. Yield to vehicles already in the intersection.
- Do not use a cell phone while driving, unless it’s hands-free.
- No texting while driving.
- Use headlights from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
- Maintain a safe following distance (3-second rule).
III. Lane Usage and Turns
- Keep right except to pass.
- Use turn signals at least 100 feet before turning or changing lanes.
- Right on red is permitted unless posted otherwise, after a complete stop and yielding to traffic and pedestrians.
- Left on red is only permitted from a one-way street onto another one-way street, unless posted otherwise.
- U-turns are prohibited where signs indicate, within 500 feet of a curve or hill, or when they interfere with traffic.
IV. Parking Rules
- Do not park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, within 30 feet of a stop sign or traffic signal, or within 20 feet of a pedestrian crosswalk at an intersection.
- Always park in the direction of traffic.
- Use the parking brake and turn the wheels towards the curb when parking downhill, and away from the curb when parking uphill.
V. Safe Driving Practices
- Always signal and check mirrors and blind spots before turning or changing lanes.
- Be aware of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
- Adjust speed based on weather and road conditions.
- Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Keep a safe distance from emergency vehicles and pull over when they are approaching.
- Know the penalties for driving under the influence.
- Familiarize yourself with local school bus-stopping laws.
- Be aware of child safety seat requirements.
- Know what to do in case of a traffic accident or breakdown.
Remember, this cheat sheet is only a guide to help you study for your New York driver’s license test. Read the New York Driver’s Manual for a comprehensive understanding of the rules and regulations. Good luck!
If you are ready to take your driver’s test, make an appointment at your local New York DMV office
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