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Legal rights at 17

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 'right to do x'.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Jun 11, 2021

Group of teenage friends

Most legal rights of a 17-year-old are the same as those of a 16-year-old. However, there are a couple of things you can do at 17 that you can't at 16.


17-year-olds can:

  • Drive most types of vehicle, with a provisional licence, as long as there's someone who is over 21 in the passenger seat who is qualified to drive
  • Drive alone if they have a full licence and proper insurance

When learning to drive (as with all learner drivers):

  • L-plates must be clearly displayed
  • Learner drivers must have appropriate insurance
  • If you're the driving instructor going through L-fire, you must be over 21, with at least three years' driving experience.

Give blood

At 17, you can legally donate blood. You also have to be fit and healthy – see the NHS Blood and Transplant page for more information.

The law

As of 2015, with regards to criminal activity, 17-year-olds can be defined as 'arrested juveniles' and treated the same as children in the eyes of the law. This means that, if a young person aged 10-17 commits a crime, they will be:

  • Dealt with by youth courts (a special type of magistrates' courts for young people)
  • Given different sentences to adults
  • Sent to special secure centres for young people, rather than adult prisons