Are You Supervising A Teen Driver?

By Jessica Rafferty, Esquire

If you answered "yes" to the above question, you're a brave soul! Also, you need to be aware that effective December 27, 2011, changes were made to the law regarding teen drivers. This article highlights these important changes.

The first step to obtaining an unrestricted driver's license is applying for a learner's permit. Under the new law, learner's permit holders under 18 years of age must now have 65 hours (instead of 50 hours) of supervised, behind-the-wheel experience before taking the road test to qualify for a junior driver's license. Ten of the added hours must consist of nighttime driving, while the other 5 additional driving hours must occur in poor weather conditions.

The new law has added restrictions on teen drivers with junior licenses. For the first 6 months after receiving a junior driver's license, a driver is not permitted to transport more than 1 passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. If the junior driver does not commit any driving violations in those first 6 months, then they may transport up to 3 passengers under the age of 18 who are not immediate family members without parental supervision. If the junior driver does receive a driving violation, they continue to be restricted to 1 passenger under age 18.

Finally, please note that drivers and occupants in a vehicle who are under the age of 18 must wear a seatbelt, and children under the age of 8 must be securely fastened in a child restraint system. Failure to do so is now a primary offense for a junior driver, meaning that the junior driver can be pulled over and cited solely for a seat belt violation.

And...if you're completely panicked about your child driving, take some advice from writer Dorothy Parker, who said, "The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires."

Good Luck!