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Penalties and Regulations for Underage Driving

By Juhi Walia
27 October 2022, 4:47 PM

Driving a bike is exhilarating and fun. You feel independent and liberated, and it is overall an enriching experience. But there are laws and rules to make the driving experience safe and happy for the driver, passengers, and pedestrians on the road. A valid driver's licence and an active bike insurance policy are mandatory obligations before driving your bike in India. 

Another critical consideration while driving is the age of the driver. A minor driving a vehicle in India is an offense. You might wonder who is considered a minor according to Indian law. Section 3 in The Indian Majority Act, 1875 defines a person who is domiciled in India and below the age of eighteen years as a minor. However, the cases of underage driving in India are increasing every year. Minors drive recklessly and not only endanger their lives but can cause harm to innocent bystanders or other drivers. 

Traffic Rules and Punishment for Underage Driving

Indian law clearly states the legal age for driving is 18. This age has been decided, considering that teenagers indulge in poor decision-making, are easily affected by negative influences, engage in rash driving, and are gullible. It is also important to note that minors do not get a licence to drive a bike or car. Yet it is found that minors are recklessly flouting these traffic rules and driving in public places without a driving licence

Underage driving has become rampant in India, especially around schools and tuition. Government authorities have sent circulars asking them to prohibit students from driving to school. But this has not helped alleviate the unruly situation, for violators pay no heed to rules and regulations. Minors do not understand the implications of underage driving unless they are caught in the soup or have learned about some underage driving accident. 

To control this dangerous and illegal phenomenon of minors driving vehicles in public places, the Indian government has brought in some rules and fines. The Indian Motor Vehicles Act states that if any underage person drives on Indian roads, their parents might face a 3-year-long term in prison. They might also have to pay a fine of INR 25,000.

To further deter minors from underage driving, Indian law has ruled that if minors are caught in the act of driving, they will not receive their driver's licence at the otherwise acceptable age of 18. Instead, as a punishment, they will receive their driver's licence only at 25.  

If a minor drives a vehicle, they not only put their lives in danger but can also harm other people on the roads. Accidents caused due to underage driving is not an alien concept in our country. In case of accidents caused due to underage driving, bike insurance companies do not entertain bike insurance claims. Thus, a road accident is emotionally and mentally scarring but financially draining. 

Significance of a Driver's Licence

It is not permissible to drive a vehicle in our country without a driver's licence, and one cannot apply for a driver's licence until they have attained the age of majority (18 years). So, if you have a driver's licence, it indicates you are not a minor, have cleared your driving test, and are ready to navigate your vehicle in the tricky maze of Indian traffic. 

Driving without a driver's licence is a punishable offense; if caught driving without one, they will have to pay a fine of INR 5000. Additionally, the penalty would be even more serious if they were minors, as discussed above. 

The Gap in Traffic Rules Awareness

There has been a significant rise in cases of underage driving in India in recent years. One primary reason is that young children who have learned to drive have tasted the adrenaline rush and sense of freedom that comes with driving a motorbike or a car. Another reason for underage driving is the lack of awareness or knowledge regarding the legal age for driving.

People often confuse 16 years as the minimum driving age in India, which applies only to gearless motorcycles. Teenagers might not know any better in these formative years of their life. But it is the responsibility of their parents and guardians to protect them, teach them about the rules and laws, ensure that they become law-abiding citizens of the nation, and prevent them from harming others.

Hence, the Indian judiciary has made provisions to punish parents for any instance of underage driving involving their children. Before teaching your children to drive, educate them on the fundamentals of traffic rules and regulations, like legal driving age, possession of motor insurance, driver's licence, a PUC certificate, etc. 


Driving on Indian roads can be challenging, even for the most seasoned drivers. So, it is hardly difficult to imagine what dangers a minor could face while riding a vehicle. No Indian citizen can obtain a driver's licence until 18 years of age.

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1. Can a 16-year-old drive a motorbike?

16-year-olds are minors, according to Indian law. So, it is an offense for a 16-year-old to drive a bike or a car in India. Of course, the legal age for driving a gearless motorbike of 50 ccs is only 16 years. 

2. Is there any penalty for underage driving?

Underage driving is a blatant violation of traffic laws. If a minor is caught driving a bike, their parents will have to pay a fine of INR 25,000. They might also have to serve a 3-year prison time. So, even if you think your child is a responsible driver, you cannot permit them to drive on Indian roads unless they are 18 years old and have a proper driver's licence. 

3. 3. Does motor insurance cover accidents caused due to underage driving?

Bike insurance companies are doing their bit to control underage driving. A bike insurance policy will never provide financial protection for damages caused in an accident where a minor was behind the wheel.

4. Why is 18 considered to be the legal age for driving?

Teenagers are inexperienced and immature and do not care for safety standards, which are integral to safe driving. In the early-teen years, children only crave the thrill: they do not wear seatbelts, indulge in reckless driving and speeding, use their phones while driving, and violate other traffic rules. Hence, 18 years is accepted as the minimum age for driving.

5. How can a parent contribute to curbing underage driving?

Minors driving without a driver's licence has become only too common a sight on Indian roads nowadays. Notwithstanding the strict traffic laws in India, they won't function unless the parents take responsibility for their children. They should not offer the keys to vehicles to their underage children. The parents must be vigilant and check on their children to ensure they obey all the rules. 

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