Proposed Bill in Connecticut Senate Would Expand Driving Privileges of Teen Drivers

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file0001719525224.jpgConnecticut’s motor vehicle laws create a graduated licensing system for teenage drivers, which lifts restrictions as novice drivers get older and gain experience. An increased rate of fatal traffic accidents among teenage drivers in Connecticut led the governor’s office to propose stricter regulations, and the law took its present form in 2009. A proposed bill introduced in January 2013 would loosen some of the restrictions on sixteen and seventeen year-old drivers, with the apparent goal of easing the transportation burden on parents. By removing key restrictions from the laws governing drivers under eighteen, the bill may increase the risks to teenagers on the road.

Republican State Senator Kevin Witkos introduced S.B. No. 104, titled “An Act Allowing Newly Licensed Motor Vehicle Operators to Transport Immediately Family Members to and from School,” in the January 2013 legislative session. The bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Transportation, and is currently scheduled for a public hearing on February 20, 2013. It would amend Connecticut General Statutes § 14-36g to remove language that prohibits drivers aged sixteen or seventeen from driving immediate family members to and from school.

Current Connecticut law places multiple restrictions on teen drivers younger than eighteen. During the first six months after obtaining a driver’s license, teen drivers may only transport certain individuals, including their own parents or guardians, a licensed driving instructor, or an adult twenty years of age or older who has had an unsuspended driver’s license for at least four years. During the second six-month period, the teen driver may also transport immediate family members. Other restrictions include a requirement that the number of passengers in a vehicle be less than or equal to the number of available seat belts, and a driving curfew from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. with limited exceptions. S.B. No. 104 would change the statute to allow teen drivers, during the first six months, to transport immediate family members, i.e. siblings, to school and back home.