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The Informed Parent

Graduated Driver’s License Law

by Shanna R. Cox, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Mar. 20, 2006

Teen drivers pose a significant risk to themselves and to other drivers. Their inexperience, easy distractibility, and susceptibility to peer pressure make them especially prone to motor vehicle accidents and fatalities. In 1997 California became the first state to initiate a graduated driver's license law to address some of the alarming statistics highlighted in last month's article.

As a result of California law SB 1329 teen related motor vehicle accident and injuries decreased by forty percent in just the first twenty-four months following its implementation in July 1998. This law was recently amended to increase the requirements of teens prior to completing their graduated license.

As of January 1, 2006, teen drivers must have their license for one year prior to being allowed to drive a vehicle between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. This amendment applies to all new teen drivers after the first of January as well as those who have had their license for less than one year as of January 1, 2006. This new law AB 1474 also requires teens to have a year's driving experience before carrying other youngsters without adult supervision. Specifically, teens must have a licensed driver over twenty-five years old with them in the car at all times if other teens are in the car until they have been driving for twelve months without infractions.

Violations of the graduated Driver's License Law are enforceable traffic violations that can adversely affect a teen's driving record and insurance status. A teen driver must first be pulled over for suspicion of a primary infraction before an officer may note a violation of the Graduated Driver's License Law, defined as a secondary violation. This amendment comes at a time when the number of teen drivers will be increasing approximately twenty-five percent within the next several years.

Parents and teens have many resources to utilize in learning about and discussing this new law. The Department of Motor Vehicles, Automobile Association of America as well as other dedicated parent groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving all support this law and provide information to help teens understand the responsibility of safe driving. In addition, on a site entitled there is helpful information for parents and teens regarding multiple aspects of safe driving, from dos and don'ts to a driving contract parents may use to motivate their teens to abide by safe driving guidelines.

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