It is common knowledge that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among our young people today. Over the years, parents, educators, and law enforcement agencies, among others, have become increasingly aware and concerned about the issue of teen driving crashes. In addition to federal mandates and education requirements, individual states have been enacting increasingly stricter laws regarding licensing requirements for teen drivers in an attempt to curb this deadly trend.
Georgia is no exception. Georgia has legislation aimed at increasing safety among teen drivers in The Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA), a graduated driver licensing procedure for Georgia teens between the ages of 15 and 18. There are three separate classifications for teen driver licensing. Joshua’s Law, which is effective January 1st, 2007, is the latest addition to the TADRA, adding an additional educational requirement to the second step.
Georgia’s teen driver’s licensing process begins with Step 1, the Instructional Permit (CP). The Instructional Permit is granted to teens 15 years of age and older who pass a state-administered written exam. Teens possessing this permit are required to have a passenger who is at least 21 years old and possesses a valid Class C driver’s license. There are no exceptions to this requirement. The Georgia Driver’s Manual is available at Georgia State Patrol offices, as well as available for download (in PDF format) at the Georgia Department of Driver Services .
Step 2 is the Intermediate, or Class D, license. Drivers between the ages of 16-18 years of age who have held an Instructional Permit for 12 months and 1 day AND passed the state-administered comprehensive on-road driving test are eligible for this license. There are several restrictions on this license, which are:
1) No driving between the hours of 12am and 6am. “No Exceptions.”
2) For the first six months, the only passengers allowed are immediate family members: i.e. siblings, or be 21 years of age or older.
3) Joshua’s Law-Beginning January 1, 2007, 16 year olds who obtains a Class D Intermediate license are required to complete a driver education course approved by the Department of Driver Services AND complete an overall total of at least forty hours of other supervised driving experience, including at least six hours of night driving.
If you have not completed an approved driver’s education course, you won’t be able to obtain a Class D driver’s license until you are 17 years old. The forty hours of driving experience, including six hours of night driving, is always required for a Class D Intermediate driver’s license. (To read the law itself, please visit the full text of Georgia Senate Bill 226.)
The third and final step for the graduated teen licensing process is to obtain a Full Class C driver’s license. You must be 18 years or older. You must not have any major traffic convictions during the last 12 months. You can’t have any of the following violations during the last 12 months:
DUI (Georgia’s zero tolerance for underage drunk driving means a convicted driver with a blood-alcohol level of .08 grams or more will have their driver’s license suspended for 12 months on the first offense.)
Eluding a police officer
Hit and run
Any other moving violation that add 4 or more points onto the driver’s license
Another part of TADRA is the provision for suspending teen driver’s licenses. Any driver under 21 years old who is convicted for any of the violations listed below will have their license suspended for 6 months on the first offense and 12 months for the second offense.
Eluding a police officer
Hit and run
Purchase of alcoholic beverages
Using fake ID for alcohol purchase
Any moving violation that adds 4 or more points onto the driver’s license
Accumulating 4 or more points within a 12 month period, if you are under 18
First DUI conviction for a blood alcohol level of .08 grams or more (automatic 12 month suspension on the first offense)
There is also a school attendance requirement. Truancy or dropping out of school will result in a suspension of 12 months, or until the teen reaches 18 years of age.
Joshua’s Law is named in honor of Joshua Brown, who died in a single-car collision on a wet road while driving alone. His parents, Alan and LuGina, organized the Joshua Brown Foundation and began the process of having a mandatory driver education law in Georgia, believing Joshua’s death may have been avoided if he had known what to do in that particular situation. According to their website, the stated mission of the Joshua Brown Foundation is to establish networks between public, private, and government partners to make technologically advanced drivers education available for every teen.
Are all these restrictions worth it? According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services website, during the 18 months after TADRA was enacted in July of 1997, there was a 44.5% decline in teenage speed-related crashes. Looks like it is working!