In an attempt to improve driver training and public safety, New York has enacted legislation that increases the amount of supervised training necessary for an individual to obtain a license and places new restrictions and penalties on young drivers. On February 22, 2010, New York State enacted changes to the Graduated Driver Licensing Law (GDL) as a way of improving teenage driver safety. This law is applicable to any driver in New York state under the age of 18, even if issued a valid out-of-state permit or license. The GDL established a three-stage licensing process: new drivers first earn a junior permit, then a junior license and, finally, a senior license.
An article in the New York Law Journal from June 6, 2012 examines the types of licenses for new drivers, as well as the requirements and restrictions of each.
- Once a new driver turns 16 and completes the required written test, he or she may drive only when accompanied by a validly licensed supervising driver over the age of 21.
- A driver may only have one passenger under the age of 21, unless they are members of the driver’s immediate family.
- A driver may not drive on a street in a New York city park, any bridge or tunnel under the jurisdiction of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, or on the Cross County, Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River, or Taconic State parkways in Westchester County.
- Once a driver has had a valid permit for six months and has completed 50 hours of supervised driving, of which a minimum of 15 must be after sunset, a road test can be scheduled.
- New York City: The subject vehicle is required to be equipped with a dual control/brake system.
- New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties: The supervising driver must be a parent, guardian or driving instructor. New drivers are prohibited from driving between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
- Remainder of State: A new driver may drive with a supervising driver who is at least 21 between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. the supervising driver must be a parent, guardian or driving instructor.
- If the new driver completes the driving hours and passes the road test, he or she will be issued a junior license.
- A driver with a junior license may only have one passenger under the age of 21 in the motor vehicle, unless the passengers are members of the junior driver’s immediate family. This does not apply if the driver is accompanied by a licensed parent/guardian or driving instructor.
- New York City: Junior licensed drivers are not permitted to drive within the five boroughs.
- Nassau and Suffolk counties: Junior licensed drivers are permitted to drive without a supervising driver if traveling directly between home and work or educational courses In the remainder of cases, junior licensed drivers may drive between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. with a supervising driver.
- Remainder of State: A new driver may drive without a supervising driver between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., junior licensed drivers are permitted to drive without a supervising driver if traveling directly between home and employment or educational courses.
Once a junior licensed driver has completed a state-approved driver education course and reached the age of 17, the driver can obtain a class D senior license. The driver simply brings the Certification of Completion (MV-285) to his or her local DMV and the restrictions discussed above will no longer apply. A junior license becomes a senior license once the driver reaches the age of 18.
- Violations: The driver’s permit/license will be revoked for 60 days if its holder is convicted of one serious traffic violation or two other violations within the first six months after the license has been restored from a suspension or revocation. The 60 days following the passing of a road test is considered a “New Driver Probation” period.
- Drinking and Driving: The Zero Tolerance Law makes it illegal for a driver under age 21 to have consumed any alcohol. The Child Passenger Protection Act (Leandra’s Law) makes it a class E felony to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, with a passenger under the age of 16.
- Portable Electronic Devices: It is illegal for any driver to text using a portable electronic device while the vehicle is moving. In addition, drivers cannot operate a motor vehicle while wearing more than one earphone attached to an audio device.
Violations and Negligence
If a new driver is found to have been operating a vehicle in violation of the restriction that a supervising driver be present, it could be used to establish negligence on behalf of the offending driver.
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicle provides a wealth of readily accessible guides and resources for new drivers, as well as guides for parents of new drivers, on its website at www.dmv.ny.gov.
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