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New law gets tough with young drivers

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

A new driving law that could potentially decrease the number of fatal vehicle collisions involving teens while simultaneously forcing law enforcement officers to handcuff more young drivers went into effect this month.

Approved by the Legislature last year, the law states that teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 who have a provisional permit or license must be arrested and taken before a judicial official if they commit a moving violation. According to the law, a criminal moving violation by a teen 16-18 is punishable as a misdemeanor or felony offense.

In addition, any teen drivers 16-28 who are charged with certain offenses will lose their licenses for a period of 30 days.

“There are several instances if a person with a provisional license is charged,” Lincoln County state trooper Sgt. B. Hipp said. “The charging officer is required to arrest the person and take them to a magistrate, and they will lose their drivers license.” Speeding is included, Hipp said.

He believes the change in law will yield positive results. “This will be a good change to the law because the ultimate goal is to reduce motor vehicle collisions,” Hipp said. “The changes will require new drivers to have more time with licensed drivers’ supervision prior to driving by themselves.”

The bill states that for the next two years, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Motor Vehicles will be studying the law’s effectiveness on teen driving. During that time, the following items will be calculated and assessed: property damage crashes, personal injury crashes, fatal crashes, moving violations and seatbelt violations.

The Division plans to report its findings by Feb. 1, 2014 to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee, the bill said.

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