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Intermediate Licenses: What Teens Can and Cannot Do

If you are a teen or you are the parent of the teen, you know that teen driver's licenses  have changed. The days of sixteen or seventeen year-old drivers receiving an adult driver's license are over. Now your teen must go through a graduated licensing process, starting with an Intermediate License. Essentially, it puts teens on strict driving probation. And, with an Intermediate License comes different restrictions than an adult   license. Thus, it pays to know exactly what your teen driver can and cannot do as an Intermediate License holder.

Intermediate Licenses are governed by RCW 46.20.075. A teen may drive if he or she fulfills specific criteria:

(1) An intermediate license authorizes the holder to drive a motor vehicle under the conditions specified in this section. An applicant for an intermediate license must be at least sixteen years of age and:

     (a) Have possessed a valid instruction permit for a period of not less than six months;

     (b) Have passed a driver licensing examination administered by the department;

     (c) Have passed a course of driver's education in accordance with the standards established in
RCW 46.20.100;

     (d) Present certification by his or her parent, guardian, or employer to the department stating (i) that the applicant has had at least fifty hours of driving experience, ten of which were at night, during which the driver was supervised by a person at least twenty-one years of age who has had a valid driver's license for at least three years, and (ii) that the applicant has not been issued a notice of traffic infraction or cited for a traffic violation that is pending at the time of the application for the intermediate license;

     (e) Not have been convicted of or found to have committed a traffic violation within the last six months before the application for the intermediate license; and

     (f) Not have been adjudicated for an offense involving the use of alcohol or drugs during the period the applicant held an instruction permit.

Once your teen receives an Intermediate License, you and your teen need to be aware of certain restrictions. The last thing you want is your teen to receive a traffic ticket for an Intermediate License violation, because their right to drive may be suspended. (Link to website page on Why to Fight Teen Tickets).

Intermediate Licenses: Rules and Limitations

Here is what Intermediate License holders cannot do.

  • For the first six months after your teen receives an Intermediate License, he or she cannot drive with passengers under the age of 20 (unless they are immediate family). In Washington State, immediate family includes "the spouse or domestic partner, dependent children, and other dependent relatives, if living in the household." RCW 42.17A.005.

  • After the first six months probation, your teen driver may not drive with more than three passengers under the age of twenty (unless they are immediate family).

  • Your teen cannot legally drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by a parent, guardian, or licensed driver who is at least twenty-five years old.

  • Your teen must not drive using a cell-phone or other wireless communication device


A violation of any of the above rules can result in a traffic ticket. If your teen receives a traffic ticket, it is important to contact an attorney who can advise you of the best course of action when fighting your teen's traffic ticket.


Here is what Intermediate License Holders can do:

  • Use a cell-phone or other wireless device while driving to report illegal activity


  • Drive at any hour without restriction on numbers of passengers if, following the 12 month probation period, your teen has not been convicted of a traffic offense.

  • Drive at any hour without restriction on numbers of passengers if, following the 12 month probation period, they have not been involved in a car accident where only one car was involved, or your teen was cited, or neither driver was cited (neither driver was found to have caused the accident).

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