Troopers: Teens not following license rules

Published 1:11 am Friday, February 24, 2017

State Troopers say they continue to see teenagers violate the terms of the Alabama Graduated Driver License Law.

State Trooper spokesperson Kevin Cook said Thursday that the primary violations are too many passengers in the car and using their cell phones when driving.

The graduated driver’s license rules apply to 15, 16 and 17-year-olds in Alabama and are categorized in stage one, which is the learner’s permit, stage two, restricted license, and stage three, which is unrestricted or regular license.

There are restrictions.

Fifteen-year-olds with a valid learner license are authorized to drive while accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or a person who is 21 years of age or older who is a licensed driver and occupies the front seat.

A 16-year-old must have parental or legal guardian’s permission to receive a license and to drive without supervision to get the restricted license.

“Parents have to sign an affidavit saying that their child has 50 hours of supervision behind the wheel,” he said.

Cook said it’s pertinent that parents understand that teen drivers need more experience on the road than just driver’s education.

“There is no way that the driver’s ed teacher can give them 50 hours of driving time,” he said. “I’ve hard a lot of people say they can’t ride with their child. They are doing their child an injustice. The number of vehicle fatalities is up and the number one reason for teenage crashes is the lack of experience. I would really push parents to take the time to give their children that experience.”

Once a teenager turns 17 and has had a stage two license for at least six months before applying for a stage three license, they may receive the regular driver’s license.

Cook said that once teenagers receive their licenses they need to know that they cannot drive with more than one non-family member in the car at a time.

“The majority of high schoolers pick up their friends,” he said. “And that’s not legal while you have a stage 1 or stage 2 license.”

Cook said the reason for this is because high school students can get distracted easily, specifically with their inexperience behind the wheel.

Cook said that teenagers may carry as many family members at the vehicle has proper seat belts.

Cook said the state legislature reduced that from four in 2010.

Additionally, Cook said that the majority know that texting while driving in Alabama is illegal, but for those who have the stage 1 and stage 2 licenses, it’s also illegal for them use a cellphone to make or receive a phone call.

Additionally those students may not operate their vehicle between midnight and 6 a.m., unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian unless:

  • Accompanied by a licensee 21 years of age or older with parental consent;
  • Going to or from their regular workplace;
  • Going to or from a school-sponsored event;
  • Going to or from a religious-sponsored event;
  • Driving due to a medical, fire or law enforcement-related emergency.

Cook said that violation of the restrictions will result in an extended period of restrictive driving for six months or until age 18.

Another thing Cook said parents and teens should be aware of it that the driver’s license point system is different for those on the graduated license.

They are only allowed four points in a year period.

Cook said that means that if a teen is caught doing more than 26 mph over the speed limit he or she would lose his license for 60 days.