The Freedom of Driving is Not the Same for Kids Today
When I was a teen, obtaining a driver’s license represented freedom. We could not wait to get our licenses and be able to drive and go see our friends. Back then, there were not too many restrictions on teenage drivers. As a grown-up and a car accident lawyer today, I can say that I have seen a lot of change since my teenage days. Now, many teens are not in nearly as big of a hurry to get their licenses. They can communicate with friends via video chat on their cell phones from anywhere at any time. In addition, the freedom offered by a license to teens has changed. Parents need to be aware of these new restrictions so that they don’t find their kids getting hit with expensive tickets or worse, losing their license due to a car accident.
Much like when we were teens, our teens today can obtain a learner’s permit at 15 years-old without the need for showing hardship. They only need to provide proof of a valid SSN and a Certified Birth Certificate. To obtain their learner’s permit, they will need to pass a driving test, a vision test, and offer proof that they have enrolled in a driver’s education course. Once they have the permit, they are limited to driving with a driver over the age of 21 in the car. They will need to have had this license for a minimum of six months and have put in 30 hours (including 10 night hours) of driving to obtain their provisional driver’s license at age 16.
Provisional Driver’s License Restrictions
At 16, upon passing the classroom requirements of driver’s ed and passing a road test, a teen may obtain their provisional driver’s license. The provisional driver’s license is not like the full license we got at age 16. A teen with a provisional river’s license may drive alone. However, one of the provisional driver’s license restrictions is that they may not drive with more than one person under the age of 21 in the car who is not a family member. Additionally, provisional driver’s license restrictions do not allow teen drivers to drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent unless they are traveling to school, work, or in an emergency situation.
Cell Phone Restrictions
In addition to the license-specific restrictions, there are several cell phone laws that affect teen drivers as well. It is illegal in Texas for anyone, including teens, to send or receive an electronic message while driving. This includes, texting, messaging, and emailing. Additionally, drivers with learner’s permits may not use a cellphone for the first six months and no drivers under the age of eighteen may use a cell phone while driving. Lastly, it is illegal to use any cellular device in a school zone.
Largely due to changes caused by cell phones, there are many more driving restrictions for modern teenagers to be aware of. Parents need to understand these rules too so as to prevent their kids from making serious mistakes.