How Teens Can Convince Parents to Let Them Get a Driver's License

A teenaged driver sits behind the wheel as her father looks on.

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Here's the situation: You're 15 or 16 years old and are ready to hit the road, but there's a major roadblock: Your parents won't let you take the steps needed to get your driver's license.

Regardless of how responsible you may think you are, your parents might not think you're ready for the risks of handling a two-ton machine capable of traveling at high speeds. Your friends all have licenses, thanks to their reasonable parents, and it's simply not fair that you've been left behind.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to convince your parents to let you begin the licensing process and eventually get your driver's license.

Get to Know Your State's Driver Licensing Program

Before you can convince your parents to let you get your driver's license, look up your state's licensing requirements on the Governors Highway Safety Association website. This initial step will ensure that you can legally begin the licensing process, and it will help you speak knowledgeably with your parents about how the process will unfold.

All states have a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program that usually includes three stages:

  • Learner: At this stage, teens can drive with a learner's permit but only with adult supervision.
  • Intermediate: At this stage, you graduate to a provisional license and can drive unsupervised at certain times.
  • Full licensure: This is the stage at which you get your standard driver's license and can drive unsupervised.

Different states impose different requirements for the age at which you can progress to a certain stage, how long you'll have to remain in that stage, how many hours of supervised driving you'll need to complete, and restrictions on when and with how many passengers you can drive in the first two stages.

Take Driver's Education Classes

While the education requirements to get a driver's license vary by state, you'll often have to complete basic driver's education to obtain a learner's permit and additional training to get a provisional license. Approved forms of education might include a certified driving school, parent-taught driver's education, or driver's education offered through a public school.

If your parents won't let you get a license, they might not agree to pay for driving classes, but the driver classes at your school may be free. If only private courses are available, find out all you can about them (including the price) before you approach your parents.

Be sure to point out that, in many cases, completing a driver's education course means a discount on their ​insurance. It's a good way to convince them that being a safe driver is as important to you as it is to them. At the very least, they will be impressed by your initiative.

If you offer to pay for the classes with income from a summer job or birthday money, it will go a long way toward showing your parents that you are serious about learning how to drive properly—and just maybe that you are responsible enough to do it.

Pay for Insurance

Find out how much it will cost your parents to add you to their auto insurance policy, and then earn some money. Aim toward accumulating the equivalent of, say, three to six months of the additional cost. This one works on several levels:

  1. The act of finding a job, earning some money, and saving it shows a general sense of responsibility. 
  2. It is a good way to argue that you intend to take the privilege of driving seriously.
  3. It saves them money.

If you can, keep the whole thing a secret until you have got all of the cash earned, and then hit them with it. Salesmen call this "maximizing your impact." You are trying to sell your parents on the idea of letting you get your license, aren't you?

Be Persuasive

Speaking of sales, there are few better ways to make your case for a driver's license than by putting together an actual presentation. Set down on paper a list of the reasons why you are ready to drive. Keep it short and to the point. Then, use your laptop to create some powerful graphics, and add the right music, maybe even some video. 

You can make your presentation amusing, even funny in places, but do not be silly. Give them a set of good, solid reasons. You want your parents to see you as mature and responsible, right?

Add a section where you ask, "What are the concerns that keep you from letting me get my license?" Try to anticipate their answers, and have your responses loaded into your presentation. Then pop them up at the appropriate time.

Nothing will ruin your persuasive powers faster than throwing a fit, whining, or sulking. After all, you’re trying to prove you’re an adult who is ready for the road, aren’t you?

Offer Your Parents a Bribe

This isn't as insidious as it sounds. Think of it as a bargaining process. You want something (namely, your license), and you are willing to give them something in return. We've already mentioned the best bribe you can offer (paying for your insurance), but there are plenty of others.

Promising to do stuff that you are already supposed to do, only without complaining, will not cut it.

And finally...

Be Annoying

Make sure to schedule all of your extracurricular activities, all of those things that require your parents to chauffeur you around (e.g., soccer practice, dance class, choir rehearsal, your after-school job), at times that are most inconvenient for them. Make it nearly impossible to be on time for anything else. Sooner or later, it will dawn on them that they could avoid all of those hassles by just letting you drive yourself. Of course, just by being a busy teenager, you might have this sort of “annoying” schedule without even trying. Act as if you sympathize with their problems, and then finish by saying something like, "Gee, it is just too bad that I could not get to this [add the appropriate word here: meeting; practice; rehearsal] on my own."