What Is the Curfew for Drivers Under 18 in Texas?

By Kathryn Esplin ; Updated June 05, 2017
Young man driving a car at sunset

In 2002, Texas implemented the Graduated Driving Law program for teen drivers under age 18, which requires that these drivers abide by specific restrictions while driving -- including a curfew -- before the state issues them a driver's license. In Texas, a teen has to be 15 before she can apply for a learner license and she must hold that license for at least six months before she can get a provisional license. While she drives with her provisional license, she must abide by the restrictions of the GDL program. Upon her 18th birthday, her provisional license expires and she can obtain a permanent driver's license.

The GDL Program Protects

Like other states that offer a provisional license for drivers under 18, the Texas program gives these drivers the opportunity to practice their newly acquired skills in a limited way, by requiring that they follow requirements designed with teen safety in mind. Among other rules, these requirements include a curfew that keeps young drivers off the road late at night when drivers operating the influence might be likely to be on the road.

When Is the Curfew?

In Texas, teen drivers under 18 cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m., except in special circumstances. These special circumstances are if the teen needs to go to work, if he needs to go to or to participate in a school event or in an activity related to school, or if there is a medical emergency.

Other GDL Regulations

Teens in the GDL program may not have more than one passenger in the car who is under 21, unless that person is a family member. Teens under 18 also cannot use a wireless communication device, including hands-free devices, until they are 18 -- except in an emergency.

From Provisional to Permanent License

Until a teen is 18 years of age, he must abide by the rules of the GDL program, with his provisional license. The provisional license is vertical rather than horizontal, making it easy for law enforcement officials -- or anybody else -- to identify. The provisional license also includes the date that the teen will become 18 years old, when he can obtain a permanent license. At that time, the word “Provisional” is removed from the license, but the license will still have a vertical format until the license holder turns 21.

About the Author

Kathryn Esplin, a veteran copy editor, wrote for The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, and copy edited for Addison-Wesley. She holds a journalism degree from Medill and a B.A. in English from McGill. A memoir, "Of Things Human, Life, Remarriage, Death" was published in "Blended Families (Social Issues Firsthand)."