New, Stricter Connecticut State Driving Laws for Teens go into effect August 1

Come Aug. 1, Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles will have stricter guidelines for 16- and 17-year-olds seeking learner’s permits and driver’s licenses.

They will face curfews between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. They will have to wait six months, instead of three, to drive with anyone other than an instructor or parent; and one year instead of six months to drive passengers other than family.

“We have evidence that (new drivers) are more likely to crash with passengers,” said Robert Ward, commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. “We want them to know the rules of the road. And they need time to gain experience with the least number of distractions possible.”

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Ward spoke Wednesday morning after a press conference at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford aimed at publicizing the changes in the law.

Local parents and teenagers have decidedly different views on the new rules. Parents interviewed supported Ward. Teenagers didn’t.

“I think it should depend on the individual,” said Lily Grant, 19, of New London. “Leave it up to parents. Why should a good kid be punished?”

Her sister, Summer, 16, got her learner’s permit Wednesday, and is grandfathered in under existing regulations. But she also has a situation the legislature may not have considered.

“I have a twin sister, and we go everywhere together,” she said. “Does that mean we couldn’t drive each other?”

Sherry Filiatreault of Sprague was less sympathetic.

“I have an 18-year-old who took driver’s ed but decided not to get her license,” she said. “I would worry about her friends driving her. I think this gives you more experience before you get behind the wheel with friends in the car. I remember when I got my license, there was not as much traffic as there is now.”

AT A GLANCE
New rules of the road for 16- and 17-year-olds who get their learner’s permits on or after Aug. 1:
— Applicants must pass a 25-question written test.
— New permit holders must have at least 40 hours of behind-the-wheel training before applying for a license and must complete an eight-hour driver safety course.
— Permit holders may not have passengers except for a licensed instructor or parent/guardian with a license.
— Curfew is in effect from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
— During the first six months with a license, the driver may not drive passengers other than a licensed instructor or parent/guardian with a license.
— During the second six months, the only additional passengers allowed are family members.
— Use of a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, is prohibited.
— More information is available at http://www.ct.gov/dmv

Source: By MICHAEL GANNON
Norwich Bulletin

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