Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler July 30, 2015

If you’re a teen or a teen’s parent, you may be asking what is graduated driver licensing, or GDL. If so, you should know that it allows teens to get a restricted driver’s license for learning purposes prior to getting a driver’s license with full privileges after their 18th birthday.

Why Rely on Graduated Driver Licensing?

As for why Texas and other states rely on GDL, the reason involves high accident rates for first-time teen drivers. Studies show that drivers under 18 are more apt to be in traffic accidents during their first year of driving, often due to lack of driving experience and a tendency to engage in risky behavior.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers 16 to 19 are almost three times more likely than drivers 20 and older to be in a fatal collision. Further, the crash risk is especially high for drivers in their first months of driving, the CDC says.

Phase I – Instruction or Learner’s Permit

Texas’ GDL law applies to all drivers under 18 years old. The GDL program allows teens to “graduate” to a full driver’s license by advancing through levels or phases.

Phase I involves getting an instruction permit or learner’s permit. This can go to applicants at least 15 years old who have finished a drivers education course approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety and who also have passed a written exam.

The course, known commonly as “drivers ed,” involves sessions in a classroom and driving with an instructor. The written exam involves knowledge of traffic laws, traffic signs and rules for safe driving, for which teens can study the Texas Driver Handbook.

This written exam can be taken at an office of the Texas DPS. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has a list of eight things to bring to the drivers exam:

  • Identification
  • Social Security card
  • Two documents verifying you are a resident of Texas
  • Texas Driver Education Certificate (DE-964), which you receive when you finish driver’s ed
  • Verification of Enrollment and Attendance, high school diploma, or GED
  • Application for Texas Driver’s License (DL-14A)
  • $16 processing fee
  • Parent or legal guardian to authorize paperwork

You’ll also need to pass a vision test at the DPS office.

Though the minimum age for applying for a learner’s permit is 15, teens who are 14 can begin taking driver’s education classes.

After meeting these requirements and gaining an instruction permit, teens can drive legally, but only if at least one licensed driver 21 or older also is in the vehicle.

Phase II – Provisional License

After a driver holds a learner’s permit for six months, and after the driver reaches 16 years of age, the driver can apply for a provisional driver’s license.

To get a provisional license, drivers must log at least 30 hours of driver training with a licensed driver 21 or older, and 10 hours of it must be at night.

With a provisional driver’s license, drivers may operate a motor vehicle without supervision, but with some restrictions. These include not driving between midnight and 5 a.m. except in medical emergencies or in order to attend a school-related activity.

The provisional driver also may not drive with more than one passenger under age 21 who is not an immediate member of his or her family. Such a teen also may not drive while using a cell phone or other wireless communication device, whether hands-free or hand-held, unless in an emergency.

Phase III – Full Driving Privileges

Teen drivers who meet these GDL requirements can graduate to full driving privileges when they reach age 18.

Then, they can go to an office of the Texas DMV to have the restrictions removed and get a full driver’s license. This will not happen if the driver has failed to observe the requirements or has convictions of traffic offenses.

What About Auto Insurance?

Auto insurance is required by state law. During Phase I’s instruction permit period, teens may be covered by the insurance of the adult licensed driver riding with them. Families should contact their insurer to verify this is the case, and if not, purchase a policy which covers the teen in this way.

To enter Phase II’s provisional or intermediate license period, teen drivers must be able to show proof of insurance. Parents can add such teens to their existing family policy, or teens can get their own auto insurance policy.

Jim Adler & Associates encourages safe driving by everyone, not just teens. Graduated driver licensing is an excellent way to prepare teens for the challenges ahead.

FREE Case Review


Erick Becker
Erick Becker
01:20 06 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.
Tierra Clark
Tierra Clark
18:52 19 May 17
My lawyer Bill Adler and case manager Iris Sanchez are amazing! They constantly call and check on you . They keep you up to date through the process. They care about you as a person and not just a client. The wreck was a life changing experience that I've never been through before. I'm just glad I had the right people like Bill Adler and Iris Sanchez to help me through it. Truly satisfied.Thanks and God bless y'all!
Lorenzo Preston
Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
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Tori Barroga
Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
I was dropped from a previous law firm regarding my case before I called Jim Adler. They immediately took up my case and worked hard on it - I was always up to date with each step they took and the benefits or consequences of each. In the end, I am highly satisfied with the outcome and would not have it any other way. It took some time but I truly appreciate and want to thank everybody who helped me on this journey and worked tirelessly on it.
Bernard Orozco
Bernard Orozco
17:16 23 Feb 17
I am very happy with Jim Adler & Associates. I did not know anyone who has ever used the Law Firm before. The staff is very friendly and treated me as if I were family. At times it got very stressful being without a job. They helped me when I was confused about the process. Mrs. Theresa Rodriguez stayed in contact with me constantly. Checking on me to see how I was doing and to let me know how things were going on there end. The Attorneys that handled my case know exactly what they are doing to take good care of me. Thank You so much Attorney's Mr.Michael Gomez and Mr.Trey Smith.
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