In many (most?) states in the USA, people can drive alone legally at age 16.

(Typically at 15 they can drive under supervision of an adult driver, and then on the 16th birthday can pass a test so as to drive fully alone.)

i) is there a US state where the drive-alone age is younger than 16?

(Setting aside "hardship" licenses: in some eg. rural areas people can get a driver's license before 16 if especially needed because of, eg., medical issues etc.)

ii) indeed, setting aside the US, is there a 1st or 2nd world country where, again, one can get a license to drive (alone) younger than 16?

I really couldn't find a "list of driver's license ages" on a worldwide basis, nor on an intra-US basis.

  • What's the expats link / relevance for this question?
    – Gagravarr
    Oct 28, 2015 at 14:27
  • hey bud .. huh? establishing a driver's license is an expat basic.
    – Fattie
    Oct 28, 2015 at 14:30
  • 2
    Are you planning to move somewhere based solely on where you / your kids can get a driving license the earliest? Something else?
    – Gagravarr
    Oct 28, 2015 at 14:47

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia articles, as Joe Blow notes, have enough information to answer the question.

In addition to "hardship" licenses, there is a more common distinction between "restricted" or "provisional" licenses and full licenses. The limitations of provisional licenses vary by state; they typically comprise some combination of the following:

  • restrictions against driving at night
  • restrictions against carrying passengers, which may be based on the number of passengers or their age
  • probationary rules that delay the acquisition of a full license if the driver commits any violations while holding the restricted license

According to the list, no US state offers a full license to drivers younger than 16 years old. The following states offer restricted licenses to younger drivers:

  • 15 years, 6 months
    • New Mexico
    • South Carolina
    • Wisconsin
  • 15 years
    • Idaho
    • Kansas
    • Montana
    • North Dakota
  • 14 years, 6 months
    • South Dakota (reduced to 14 years, 3 months after completion of a driver's education course)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driver%27s_license_in_the_United_States

In addition to the US states noted above, the following jurisdictions permit drivers younger 16 years old to drive without supervision:

  • El Salvador (15 years)
  • Malaysia (15 years for "light vehicles" and "commercial vehicles")
  • Sweden (15 years for "EPA-Traktors")

The Wikipedia page lists the minimum age in the Northern Mariana Islands as "15/16", but this appears to be a misreading of the cited source, which gives "15/6" (that is, 15 years, 6 months) as the minimum age for a learner's permit, and reports "no data" for other stages and restrictions of the jurisdiction's graduated licensing scheme.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_minimum_driving_age

  • superb answer..
    – Fattie
    Oct 28, 2015 at 21:10

In fact, I found the question well-answered by these lists:



Essentially, South Dakota (the USA state) has, I believe, the lowest-age for legal driving.

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