What You Need to Know About the Texas Provisional License

In the state of Texas we use a system called the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program for drivers under the age of 18. The idea behind this is to allow new drivers enough time to develop their skills as a driver by removing possible distractions and limiting the opportunities for bad decisions to be made. For example, most of us will likely agree that the day a driver first gets their license is not a good time to load up all of their friends for a late night drive.

  • Recent studies from many areas across the United States have shown that the drivers that are required to start driving with a program similar to Texas' GDL are many times less likely to receive a speeding ticket or be in an automobile crash. Several counties in Florida started tracking results in the late 1970s and it appears the trend continues throughout their life as a driver. It is important to note that not every study we reviewed showed such positive results but there wasn't a single one that revealed any kind of negative impact.
  • Receiving your provisional license is actually phase two of the GDL. Taking a step back to the first phase you would have a minor restricted license of "learner license". All new drivers, with the exception of Class M license holder, who are younger than 18 must hold their learner license for a period of no less than 180 days (6 months). If during this time a citation is received, a suspension will be placed on the license and the required time will be extended.
  • Once you reach phase two you are in the home stretch. At this point your provisional license is hot off the press and along with it you get a whole new set of rules you must follow. During the 12-months following issuance, the following rules apply:
  • There can't be more than one person in a vehicle operated by the license holder that is not over 21 years old or a member of their close family.
  • With the exception of school, work and/or a medical emergency there is no driving allowed between midnight and 5 am.
  • Except in the case of an emergency, cell phones and other forms of wireless communication are explicitly prohibited. This includes any kind of hands-free device.
  • The GDL program and provisional license in Texas have been in place since 2002 and it looks like the system will be in place for the foreseeable future. Some people will always be around to say that it is a dumb rule or it doesn't matter but remember that it is in place for a reason. It could be that projections showed lower risk of injury or maybe better traffic flow but there is always a reason. Make sure you follow the rules, learn from your experiences, practice with Texas drivers license test questions and become the best driver you can. You are sharing the road with millions of people throughout the state and trust me when I tell you that they appreciate you talking the time to learn how to drive right.