Effective Dec. 27, 2011, there were changes to the requirements for junior driver's licenses that are intended to help young drivers receive more comprehensive training, ease young driver distractions through limiting the number of passengers they may carry and improve general highway safety through improvements to passenger restraint laws. Under the new law, before a holder of a learner's permit can take the driving skills portion of the driver's test to receive a junior license, he or she must now log 65 hours behind the wheel (up from 50 hours). Ten hours must now consist of nighttime driving, while five hours must be driven in poor weather conditions. The new law also restricts the number and the age of passengers which a junior driver license holder may transport. For the first six months after receiving a junior driver's license, a driver is not permitted to have more than one passenger under age 18 who is not an immediate family member (brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister of the junior driver and adopted or foster children living in the same household as the junior driver) in their vehicle unless they are also accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. If, after six months, they have not been convicted of a driving violation or been partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash, they may have up to three passengers under age 18 who are not immediate family members without a parent or legal guardian present. If they have any convictions or are partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash while a junior driver, they are once again restricted to one passenger. Drivers and occupants in a vehicle who are under the age of 18 must wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt, and children under the age of 8 must be securely fastened in a child restraint system. Failure to comply with the new law's seat belt provisions is a primary offense, meaning that a driver can be pulled over and cited solely for that violation.
If you or a family member have been injured in a car accident, call Robert C. LeSuer or Craig A. Markham at the Elderkin Law Firm for a free, no-obligation appointment to have your auto accident questions answered.