Young drivers under new law

Published 7:50 pm Friday, December 31, 2010

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Young drivers face tougher restrictions on the road starting today, and parents will have to wade through a lengthier list of requirements for their children to get licenses.

The change to teenage driving rules is among the most noticeable of 40 news laws that take effect in the new year, laws passed in the last legislative session that either created new statutes or tweaked existing ones. Most of the changes are modest.

Teenagers face more requirements to move from a learner’s permit to a full driver’s license. The driving restrictions, enacted in a bill by Rep. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston, were described as a way to improve safety for teenage drivers.

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“They are at higher risk than other age groups,” said State Police Sgt. Markus Smith.

Current law allows 15-year-olds to get learner’s permits if they have gone to driving school and passed a written test, and they can’t drive by themselves but must be with parents, guardians or licensed drivers at least 21 years old. At 16, teenagers can get driver’s licenses if they’ve had permits for at least six months and pass a driving test. A 17-year-old can get a driver’s license by passing a written and driving test, without the other requirements.

Under the new list of requirements, to get an unrestricted driver’s license, any first-time applicant must have a signed statement by a parent, guardian or licensed driver at least 21 years old affirming that they’ve put in 50 hours of supervised driving time. Fifteen of the hours must be driven at night.

The new law also includes an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. driving curfew in which anyone under 17 years old can’t drive unless accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old or a sibling at least 18 years old, according to the state police. It also contains restrictions on how many passengers can be in the car with a driver under the age of 17.

Smith said the Department of Public Safety will be working to make sure parents and teenagers are aware of the new driving law changes.

“We’re going to try to simplify it and put that information out there in a real basic format, to try to educate the public. We don’t want this to be complicated for the public to understand,” he said.

Among some of the other laws taking effect with the start of the new year are:

4 A requirement that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana Board of Regents stream their meetings live on the Internet and archive them online, with exceptions only if there are technical problems beyond the boards’ control.

4 A change in the vote required for removal of a local public school superintendent from a majority of the school board to two-thirds of the board. The law also prohibits school board members from meddling with hiring and demotion decisions in school districts.

— Reporting requirements aimed at getting more information about the numbers of jobs and the size of payroll created by the state’s economic development grant dollars. The bills require more detailed reporting about the projects that get money from two funds overseen by the Department of Economic Development.

— A revamp of the statewide retirement programs for new hires, particularly rewriting the pension plans for new teachers, changing the employment years used to figure some benefits, the eligibility standards and the amount some workers contribute to their pension plans.



The driving restriction law is filed as House Bill 1339 and can be found at