What Are the Restrictions on a New Jersey Provisional License?


New Jersey drivers with probationary licenses have restrictions on cell phone use, night driving and the number of passengers they may transport. The probationary license -- originally called a provisional license -- is part of New Jersey’s graduated license program. It is issued once a driver has practiced supervised driving for six months and is at least 17 years old. The driver must first pass the driving test and present ID to receive the probationary license. After one year of restricted, probationary driving, the driver returns to receive his basic driver license.

Distraction-Free Driving

  • Drivers with probationary licenses may not use cell phones while driving. GPS devices and MP3 players are allowed, but only if they are plugged in and not manipulated while driving. Other devices such as hand-held video games, tablets or laptops are prohibited.

    Once drivers graduate to a basic driver license, New Jersey law allows hands-free cell phone use while driving. Texting or talking on a handheld phone is illegal and subject to a minimum first-time $200 fine.

Night Driving and Decal Reflectors

  • Probationary licensed drivers under the age of 21 may not drive between the hours of 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission issues mandatory reflectorized decals to probationary drivers. The decals enable law enforcement to discern probationary drivers from others during restricted driving hours. The decals are affixed to front and rear license plates with velcro so non-restricted drivers may remove them as needed.

    Drivers with probationary licenses may be exempt from night driving restrictions for work or religious reasons. To get the exemption, the driver must obtain an official letter on the organization’s letterhead. The letter must state the reason for the exemption and include the signature, title and contact information of the employer or official. The probationary driver must carry the letter in the car while driving during restricted hours.

Passenger Restrictions and Seat Belts

  • Passengers may also be a distraction to inexperienced drivers. Probationary licensed drivers may transport only one passenger. The restriction does not apply if:

    • A parent or guardian is present in the front seat
    • The passengers are the driver’s own children
    • The probationary driver is 21 or older

    The probationary licensed driver and all passengers must wear seat belts. This restriction is similar to New Jersey state law for basic licensed drivers, but places all the responsibility for every passenger on the probationary driver. For instance, if the driver’s 18-year-old friend is riding unbuckled in the backseat of the car, the probationary driver may be issued a $100 fine.

Penalties for Violating Restrictions

  • Drivers incur a minimum $100 fine for violating any probationary license restrictions, in addition to any other applicable fines. In 2008, a New Jersey law banned prosecutors from allowing plea agreements for probationary license holders. Traffic violations with offenses punishable by points can’t be pleaded down.

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