Alabama House approves bill to put limits on young drivers

| 5/12/2008

The Alabama House unanimously approved a bill that would put additional restrictions on the state’s most inexperienced drivers. It now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

Supporters say changes to driving rules are needed because of the frequency of fatal wrecks involving teens. Only Wyoming has a higher death rate for teen drivers and passengers, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

The Alabama bill would require drivers with learner’s permits or with less than a year’s experience behind the wheel to have licensed drivers at least 21 years old riding shotgun.

Existing state law doesn’t set an age limit for passengers in vehicles driven by young drivers. It also allows up to four people to be in affected vehicles.

Sponsored by Rep. Mac Gipson, R-Prattville, the bill includes a provision that would limit young drivers to one passenger. Exceptions would be made for family members.

The measure also would mandate drivers 16 years of age and some 17-year-old drivers to be off the road before 10 p.m. on week nights and 11 p.m. on weekends. In addition, it would prohibit drivers with graduated licenses from using mobile devices while operating vehicles.

Alabama law now requires drivers with less than a year of experience driving to be off the road by midnight. Exceptions are made for driving to or from work or church.
Law enforcement would first need to pull over drivers for other infractions before ticketing them for being in violation of the teen driving rules.

The bill – HB312 – has moved to the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Utilities Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor