Due the overhaul of Michigan’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program that took effect March 30, a crop of legislators is trying to tweak certain provisions of that restructuring to make it more palatable.
Under the new law, teenage drivers with a Level 2 license must comply with new driving restrictions including a cap on night driving hours and limits on the number of passengers that can be transported in a vehicle.
The law addresses two aspects of Michigan’s GDL program and applies to persons 17 or younger. The new restrictions for Level 2 licensed drivers apply to all teens who possess a Level 2 license, including those teens who received a Level 2 license prior to the day the law took effect.
The law prohibits teen drivers from transporting non-family passengers under 21-years-old for the first six months of a Level 2 license, and allows only one non-family passenger under 21-years-old for the remaining duration of Level 2 licensure unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or another adult aged 21 or over who’s been approved by a parent.
As proposed, Senate Bill (SB) 326 restructures the hours so these teens can be on the road later than 10 p.m. under certain circumstances.
“When the law changed, the problem was kids could not be on the road past 10 p.m., so the proposal expands that time,” said Rebecca Devooght, chief of staff for state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Antwerp), who sponsored SB 326.
The legislation makes accommodations for expanded driving hours and the number of permitted passengers, as long as certain circumstances apply, including:
• The teen driver is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a licensed driver 21 or older designated by the parent/guardian; and
• The person is going to or from school or a school-sanctioned event or is in the course of driving for work or going to and from work with more than one unrelated passenger in the vehicle who is less than 21-years-old in addition to immediate family members.
“Right now a Level 1 driver can have more than one unrelated passenger in the car whereas Level 2 drivers can’t, and these drivers have more experience so it doesn’t make sense,” said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. “Secretary Johnson supports common sense fixes to the restrictions,”
Penalties for violations are considered civil infractions.
The bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate Transportation Committee.