California Driver Handbook - Special Section - Minors
Nearly 50 percent of the drivers between 15 – 19 years of age are convicted of a traffic violation in their first year of driving.
The most common violation is for speeding, which often results in the loss of vehicle control and accounts for about 50 percent of all teen traffic convictions.
When you violate traffic laws, you increase your chances of having a collision.
Drivers 15–19 years old have the highest traffic conviction, collision, and injury rates of any age group. Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers. If you are under 18 years old, your risk of a fatal collision is about 2½ times that of the "average" driver. Your risk of an injury collision is three times higher than the average driver’s risk.
Teenagers as a group average twice as many collisions as adult drivers, while driving only half as many miles. The teenage collision rate per mile is four times greater than the adult driver collision rate per mile.
Studies show that the traffic deaths of new drivers are deadly combinations of their inexperience driving, lack of familiarity with the vehicle, and their need to push themselves and the vehicle to the limit.
The DMV will track your driving record and take actions based upon any collisions or violations as follows:
- If you get a traffic ticket and fail to appear in court, the DMV will suspend your driving privilege until you appear in court.
- If you get a traffic ticket and fail to pay the fine, the DMV will suspend your driving privilege until you pay the fine.
- If you have one "at fault" collision or conviction within 12 months, the DMV will send you a warning letter.
- If you have a second "at fault" collision or conviction (or combination of both) within 12 months, you cannot drive for 30 days, unless accompanied by your licensed parent or other licensed adult who is at least 25 years of age.
- If you have a third "at fault" collision or conviction (or any combination) within 12 months, you will be suspended for six months and placed on probation for one year.
- If you have additional "at fault" collisions or point count convictions while on probation, you will be suspended again. (Traffic law violations resolved in Juvenile Court are also reported to the DMV.)
- If you are convicted of using alcohol or a controlled substance and you are between 13 – 21 years of age, the court orders the DMV to suspend your driver license, for one year. If you do not have a driver license the court orders the DMV to delay your eligibility to apply for a driver license. You may also be required to complete a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) program.
Any restriction, suspension, or probation will continue for its full term past your 18th birthday.
Other, stronger actions may be taken if your driving record justifies them. Remember, if your driving privilege has been suspended or revoked, you may not drive in California.
The court will suspend, restrict, delay, or revoke your driving privilege for one year if you are convicted of being a habitual truant from school.
- It is against the law for a minor to use a cell phone while driving. If your cell phone rings, do not answer the call or respond to the text message.
- Convictions for violations of this law are subject to fines.
Exceptions: You may use a cell phone to contact law enforcement, a health care provider, the fire department, or another emergency entity in an emergency situation.