17 year olds and the law


If you've got a teenager who's turning 17, here's an at-a-glance list of where they stand legally. Useful for disputes with your teen about their 'rights'. 

17 year olds and the law

At 17, teenagers can be:

  • Interviewed by the police without an adult present, and given a reprimand or warning
  • Given a community sentence called a Youth Rehabilitation Order
  • Be detained in custody (but not in an adult jail) under a Detention and Training Order - the maximum term is two years but some of this will be served under supervision in the community

A young person found guilty of a serious crime, such as murder or serious assault, can be detained for longer periods.


At 17, they can:

  • Donate blood


At 17 years old, teens can:

  • Drive most types of vehicle, with a provisional licence, as long as there's an over-21 year old in the passenger seat who is qualified to drive
  • Drive alone if they have a full licence and proper insurance
  • Apply for a private pilot's licence for a plane, helicopter, gyroplane, hot air balloon and airship


  • If a teenager passes their driving test at 17, they will be subject to two years' probation during which their licence can be revoked after six points instead of the usual 12, and then they have to retake the test
  • L-plates must be clearly displayed
  • Learner drivers must have appropriate insurance

And if you're the driving instructor going through L-fire

You must be:

  • Over 21, with at least three years' driving experience


  • It's recommended you have a rearview mirror fitted while you're supervising the learner and some Valium in the glove compartment. (No, we made that bit up.)

Last updated: 14-Jul-2014 at 5:04 PM