I have a friend and she does not know how to drive and wants to finally get a license and be able to buy a car so she can drive (she's never driven before). Anyways, she wanted to go to one of those driving schools where you have someone sit next to you in a car and they teach you as you drive/etc.

Given that she doesn't have a license, is it legal for her to drive with an instructor next to her?

If so, does that mean that anyone can technically legally drive as long as the passenger is licensed?

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure she must get a learner's permit. They're regulated by each state. Please edit your question to include the state.
    – mkennedy
    Jul 11, 2016 at 20:09
  • @mkennedy I haven't heard of anywhere where you can drive without a license. You need to apply for a license before you can drive, regardless of who is in the car with you (however different types of licenses may require someone to be with you - in Ontario, you need to have someone with at least four years experience while you're driving with a learner's license).
    – Zizouz212
    Jul 11, 2016 at 20:54
  • @Zizouz212 in the US, the document that evidences one's right to drive in the company of a licensed driver, for the purpose of learning how to drive, is generally called a "learner's permit." Not all states require them, however; in some states, anyone can drive as long as they're over the appropriate age and have a qualified accompanying licensed driver. See, for example, nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/driver-licensing/education-training/…
    – phoog
    Jul 11, 2016 at 21:40
  • @phoog Oh wow. That's interesting. Never heard of that before
    – Zizouz212
    Jul 11, 2016 at 21:47
  • 1
    If I recall correctly, Illinois is the same way - once you reach a certain age, a learner's permit is no longer required as long as the front passenger seat is occupied by a licensed driver, who also must meet a particular minimum age. Jul 18, 2016 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


The answer depends on state law.

For example, Illinois is governed by 625 ILCS 5/6. Generally, people need an instruction permit to participate in a driver education course.

Section 6-103. The Secretary of State shall not issue, renew, or allow the retention of any driver's license nor issue any permit under this Code:

  1. To any person, as a driver, who is under the age of 18 years except as provided in Section 6-107, and except that an instruction permit may be issued under Section 6-107.1 to a child who is not less than 15 years of age if the child is enrolled in an approved driver education course as defined in Section 1-103 of this Code and requires an instruction permit to participate therein, except that an instruction permit may be issued under the provisions of Section 6-107.1 to a child who is 17 years and 3 months of age without the child having enrolled in an approved driver education course and except that an instruction permit may be issued to a child who is at least 15 years and 3 months of age, is enrolled in school, meets the educational requirements of the Driver Education Act, and has passed examinations the Secretary of State in his or her discretion may prescribe;

    1.5. To any person at least 18 years of age but less than 21 years of age unless the person has, in addition to any other requirements of this Code, successfully completed an adult driver education course as provided in Section 6-107.5 of this Code

It is written in this way because 1) IL has what's called a graduated license program where minors who would otherwise be allowed to get a license may only get one subject to parental approval, and 2) sometimes people apply for licenses after moving to IL.

What do you need a permit or license for?

Section 6-101. Drivers must have licenses or permits.

(a) No person, except those expressly exempted by Section 6-102, shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this State unless such person has a valid license or permit, or a restricted driving permit, issued under the provisions of this Act.

(b) No person shall drive a motor vehicle unless he holds a valid license or permit...

There are a few exemptions, one of which is for temporarily driving farm equipment along a roadway.

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