FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|CONTACT:||Buel C. Young|
|MVA Organization Relations|
NEW STATE LAW TO PROTECT YOUNG DRIVERS TAKES EFFECT OCTOBER 1, 2009
More Training Required and Tougher Penalties to be Imposed
GLEN BURNIE, MD (September 30, 2009) -- Maryland’s new driving law designed to improve teen driver safety by requiring more training and imposing tough new penalties for violations, will go into effect Thursday, October 1, 2009. The new law, passed by the 2009 General Assembly, is part of the state of Maryland’s effort to help young drivers develop responsible driving behavior.
According to the National Safety Council, young drivers are more likely than anyone else to be injured or killed in a vehicle crash. In 2007, there were 18,993 crashes involving young drivers accounting for 18.8 % of the total crashes in Maryland. Statistics prove that crash rates are highest during a teen’s first few months behind the wheel.
The new law recognizes the need for more experience on the road and establishes serious sanctions for dangerous behavior. Specific provisions of the law require that:
- The Learner’s Permit must be held nine months before the individual is eligible for a Provisional License and therefore the minimum age to be eligible for a Provisional License will be 16 years, 6 months. Currently, a learner’s permit must only be held for 6 months and the minimum age to be eligible for a Provisional license is 16 years, 3 months.
- The minimum age requirement for a full driver’s license will become 18 years of age and extends the prohibition against use of a wireless communication device while driving by a minor holding a provisional license to 18 years of age. Current law allows an individual to obtain a full driver’s license at age 17 years, 9 months.
- Anyone who obtained a Learner’s Permit before October 1, 2009, WILL BE required to hold their Learner’s Permit until they reach the new 9-month requirement.
- The licensee must be without a conviction or probation before judgment (PBJ) for 9 months in order to obtain a provisional license and 18 months for a full license. Current law requires that a licensee must be conviction free for 6 months in order to obtain a provisional license and 18 months before full licensure not including any probation before judgments.
- The parent and co-signer can withdraw consent at any time while a teen driver is a minor and the MVA will cancel their learner’s permit or provisional license. Current law requires the MVA to suspend a minor’s license when a cosigner withdraws their consent resulting in unintended insurance premium increases.
- Penalties for moving violations have been strengthened for repeated violations. Drivers under the age 18 face the following penalties for repeated violations:
- Mandatory completion of a driver improvement program.
- Driving restricted to education and employment purposes only.
- Retaking of all law and driving skills tests.
- License suspension for excessive points within a 12-month period, for repeated convictions or PBJs during the provisional period or for a conviction on an offense classified as high risk driving.
- Revocation of the driver’s license.
Current law only requires that the provisional driver’s license be suspended or revoked for the recommended number of days without any further sanctions or retraining.
“We have a moral responsibility and obligation to strengthen our teen driving laws because car crashes are still the number one killers of teens in Maryland,” said Delegate Jim Malone (District 12). “Tomorrow, all minors will be prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.”
MVA Administrator John Kuo said, “This is part of our driver safety initiative to reinforce the State’s graduated driver licensing program. With more training time we hope teen drivers will be able to accumulate the level of experience necessary to keep them safe behind the wheel. By imposing tougher penalties for violators, young drivers will understand the serious responsibilities that come with getting a Maryland driver’s license.”
The new law also supports a parent or guardian’s role in making a teen a safer driver. “A parent or guardian’s involvement, patience, and guidance can greatly increase the odds of a teen’s safety while operating a motor vehicle,” added Kuo.
For more details on the new teen driving law, visit MVA’s web site at www.mva.maryland.gov.