Teen Driving

New driving laws for teens and adults have made significant changes that everyone should be aware of. These new laws also affect how many passengers teens can have in their vehicle depending on how long they have been licensed. Please review the following information and become familiar with it so you don't get ticketed for violating them.


The leading cause of death for Minnesota's teens ages 15 to 17 is traffic crashes.

In Minnesote in 2012, there were:

  • 26,628 DWI arrests made in MN
  • 378 fatalities due to traffic crashes (368 in 2011)
  • 111 fatalities related to alcohol (2011 data, 2012 not complete)
  • 53 motorcycle deaths (42 in 2011)

Each year approximately 1/3 of all traffic related deaths are attributed to drunk driving.

Common Risk Factors

The six most common risk factors among teen drivers are:

  • Inattentiveness
    Driver distraction is the most common factor in multiple vehicle crashes.
  • Excessive speed
    Illegal/unsafe speed is the most common factor in single vehicle crashes for teen drivers.
  • Failure to wear a safety belt
    Properly wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45% in a car and 60% in a light truck.
  • Fatigue
    A person who has been awake for 24 hours experiences impairment nearly equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .10%.
  • Not checking traffic before pulling out
    Most crashes involving teens occur at intersections because of their inexperience judging distance and speed.
  • Driving with other teens
    The presence of passengers strongly increases crash risk. For teen drivers, the more passengers, the greater the risk.

Recent Legal Changes

Cell Phones

Effective 2008, it is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, except to call 911 in an emergency. It is also illegal for drivers of all ages to compose, read, or send text messages or access the Internet on a wireless device while on the road. (Minnesota Statute 169.475)


For the first six months of licensure, only one passenger under the age of 20 is permitted, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. For the second six months of licensure, no more than three passengers under the age of 20 are permitted, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is an exception made for passengers under age 20 who are members of the immediate family. (Minnesota Statute 171.055)