Driving in New York State

General Information about driving in New York State

To drive a car or motorcycle in New York State, you must be at least 16 years old and have a valid NYS driver license or learner permit, or a driver license or permit that is valid for driving in NYS issued by another state or country. If you are under age 18, obey the restrictions that apply to drivers under age 18. See the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Law and the restrictions on drivers under age 18.

Can you drive In New York State with a valid out-of-state or foreign driver license?

You can drive in NYS with a valid driver license from another state or country. You don’t need to apply for a NYS driver license unless you become a NYS resident.

A foreign driver license allows you to drive in NYS. You are not required to have an International Driving Permit to drive in NYS, but the permit verifies, in several languages, that you have a valid foreign driver license. This is helpful to police officers who can’t read the language on your foreign driver license. Contact the authorities in your home country to get an International Driving Permit.

What if you become a resident of New York State?

 If you become a NYS resident,  you must get a NYS driver license within 30 days and surrender your out-of-state driver license. This also applies to drivers with motorcycle licenses. Normally, you can’t have a NYS driver license and a driver license from another state at the same time, but there are exceptions.

Definition of "Resident"

 As used in this section, the term "resident" shall mean domiciliary, that is, one who lives in this state with the intention of making it a fixed and permanent abode. It shall be presumptive evidence that a person who maintains a place of abode in this state for a period of at least ninety days is a resident of this state.

International Driving Permit

An International Driving Permit is not a driver license. The permit only verifies that you hold a valid driver license in your home country. Your foreign driver license, not the International Driving Permit, allows you to drive in NYS. Contact the authorities in your home country to get an International Driving Permit. If you are not a resident of the US, you cannot apply for this document in the US. You are not required to have an International Driving Permit to drive in NYS, but the permit has value. The permit verifies, in several languages, that you have a valid foreign driver license. An officer who cannot read the language on your foreign driver license can read the permit.

What is the seat belt law in New York State?

New York State law requires all front seat passengers to wear seat belts. Children under the age of 16 must wear seat belts when they are in the front seat or the back seat. Children under the age of four must ride in safety seats. Children aged 4 to 6 must ride in child restraint systems, correctly installed. 

What should you do if you receive a traffic ticket in NYS?

The back of your traffic ticket contains information on how to answer the ticket. You must respond to the ticket to prevent a suspension of your driver license or driving privileges.

What must you do if you have an accident?

If you are in an accident, you are required by the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to stop and exchange information with the involved drivers. If the accident caused property damage only, then you can just exchange information (driver license, insurance, and registration details). If a parked vehicle or other property is damaged, or if a domestic animal is injured,

you must locate the owner or contact the police. If a person is injured or killed, you are required by the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to immediately notify the police. It is a crime to leave the scene of an accident that causes personal injury or death.

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