Graduated driver's licenses endorsed in Wyoming

| 9/15/2004

Wyoming teens would have to wait until their 17th birthday before they could get a full-scale driver’s license under a state legislative proposal approved last week.

Current state law makes 16-year-olds eligible for full driving privileges.

The Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Interim Committee agreed Sept. 9 to sponsor the bill in the legislative session that begins in January, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. It would make 16-year-olds eligible for a new type of license called an intermediate permit.

The permit would have restrictions on the hours of operation and types of passengers, but it would still give drivers more privileges than those available to holders of instruction permits, which are available to 15-year-olds.

Supporters of the legislation claim states that have adopted the graduated driver’s license laws have seen a drop in the number of accidents, deaths and injuries among teenagers. Wyoming was one of four states in 2003 that did not have any type of graduated driver’s license laws.

Transportation panel members voted to sponsor the bill in the 2005 budget session.

Under the proposal, a 14-year-old would still be eligible for a restricted license. At age 15, a person would still be eligible for an instruction permit. In both cases, a teenager would be prohibited from getting behind the wheel unless accompanied by a licensed driver 21 or older.

State law now specifies the accompanying licensed driver must be 18. The bill was amended to remove the requirement in current law that the accompanying driver must be licensed for at least one year.

An intermediate permit would be available to someone who is at least 16 who has also held an instruction permit and has completed 50 hours of driving under adult supervision – including at least 10 hours of night driving.

With an intermediate permit, a teen could drive alone or with only one passenger under 21. The proposal would prohibit teens from being behind the wheel between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.