While fighting off writer’s block this week, I ran across a great column written by my friend and colleague, Kathryn Boortz. (Yes, she is related to Neal by marriage). She is also an excellent lawyer and legal columnist. Her website is www.boortzlaw.com. Well, she gave me permission to republish her most recent column about teenage driving just in time for summer. Here it is: Getting a driver’s license used to be a teenage rite of passage that implied growing freedom, but today comes with significant restrictions and oversight, as well as substantial penalties for running afoul of teenage driving regulations.
States across the country have been revamping driver’s license requirements for teenagers since the late 1990s in an effort to prevent what had been a growing number of teen driving-related fatalities. Georgia’s revamped teenage driving laws are dictated by Joshua’s Law and the Teenage & Adult Driver Responsibility Act. Along with increasing the scope of driver’s education, they also established a graduated licensing process for teenagers, placed specific restrictions on teenage drivers, and mandated strict penalties for teenagers failing to obey motor vehicle and alcohol laws.
Graduated licensing in Georgia is a three-step process: • The instructional permit is granted to potential drivers 15 years and older who have passed a written examination. The instructional permit allows the novice driver to drive with an experienced and licensed driver 21-years and older. • The intermediate (Class D) license is granted to drivers between 16 and 18 years of age who have held an instructional permit for 12 months and passed the driving test. • A full (Class C) license is granted to drivers 18 and older who have held the Class D license and incurred no major driving violations for the preceding 12 months. To receive a Class D license, drivers must first complete a state approved driver education course, and must have completed a cumulative 40 hours of supervised driving experience with at least six hours at night. Class D license holders must abide by the following regulations: • No driving between the hours of 12 midnight and 5 a.m. • For the first six months cannot drive with any passengers under the age of 21 who are not immediate members of his or her family. • During the second six months, the driver is allowed to drive with one passenger under the age of 21 who is not a member of the family • After a full year the driver is allowed up to three passengers under the age of 21, who are not family members.
Along with the above noted restrictions, instructional permit holders and Class D drivers must be enrolled in school, or have graduated, and cannot accumulate more than 10 days of unexcused absences during an academic year. The state will also suspend instructional permits or Class D licenses for a number of different offenses committed on school grounds, such as threatening or striking a teacher, possession of a weapon, possession or sale of drugs, assault causing physical harm, and certain sexual offenses.
A full (Class C) license is granted to drivers 18 and older who have held the Class D license and incurred no major driving violations for the preceding 12 months. However, Class C drivers under the age of 21 face the same penalties as Class D license and instructional permit holders for breaking certain motor vehicle and alcohol laws. More specifically, all drivers under the age of 21 face a minimum six-month license suspension for convictions of the following infractions: • Reckless or aggressive driving • Speeding • Hit and run or leaving the scene of an accident • Racing on highways or streets • Fleeing or attempting to elude the police in a motor vehicle • Underage possession of alcohol • Attempted purchase of alcohol • Misrepresentation of age in attempting to purchase alcohol • Having a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or greater while driving • Refusing a blood alcohol or chemical test • Any offense for which more than four points are assessed, or accumulating more than four points in a calendar year. Thanks for the detailed information, Kathryn!