2015-07-07 / Front Page

New Rules Affect Young Indiana Drivers; Wireless Ban Extended

Staff Report

Indiana Governor Mike Pence recently signed legislation amending the requirements for obtaining a driver’s license and placing new restrictions on older novice drivers in the state.

The new version of the law, which took effect July 1st, extends certain graduated driver’s license (GDL) restrictions to all persons under age 21, including the six-month holding period, passenger and nighttime driving restrictions and wireless ban, including hands-free devices. The only exception is calling 911 in the case of an emergency.

The only passengers allowed in the vehicle with an unsupervised driver up to 21 years old for the first six months are siblings, the driver’s children, or a spouse.

In addition, teens who complete driver education can obtain a probationary driver’s license at age 16 and 90 days. Previously, teens had to wait until age 16 and 270 days, or age 16 and 180 days if they completed driver education, to obtain a probationary license.

Those choosing not to complete a driver education course can still obtain a probationary license at the age of 16 years and 270 days.

The GDL law also strengthens the definition of who can supervise teens during practice driving sessions in an effort to address liability issues.

According to Owen County Prosecutor Don VanDer- Moere, “the new law is our legislature’s most recent attempt at reducing distracted and divided attention driving among our youngest and least experienced drivers. The law expands the restriction imposed on drivers (under the age of 21) from using cell phones in any manner while behind the wheel, except for calling 911 in the case of an emergency. The law also seeks to reduce potential distractions coming from passengers by limiting who may ride with novice drivers.”

VanDerMoere went on to comment that, “time will only tell whether the new law and enforcement of these restrictions ultimately reduces the number of accidents among this target population.”

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