A juvenile driver is someone under the age of 21 operating a motor vehicle. The rate of driving infractions and accidents - including deaths - is particularly high among members of this age group, who are in the process of mastering the rules and the skills of driving.
To minimize these dangers, many states have introduced graduated licensing programs for teens.
Drivers' license learner permits come with a number of restrictions. Learners can drive only with a parent, legal guardian or qualified trainer in the vehicle. All passengers must wear seat belts and there is no permitted use of cell phones (even hands-free) or other mobile electronic devices. Learners must hold a permit for three months before applying for a license.
Provisional Drivers Licenses
Many of these restrictions remain in effect once the new driver has been licensed at age 17 or 18. In some states, they may drive only with parents, guardians, instructors and older drivers in good standing for the first six months.
After six months, they can drive with immediate family. Seat belts are required. Cell phone and mobile devices are forbidden. Night driving is highly restricted. Cases involving the youngest offenders are often handled in juvenile court. Offenses at this stage can result in a loss of permit or provisionary license for a certain period of time.
Once a driver holds an actual drivers license, he or she must follow the same driving rules as any other driver. Routine driving infractions go to traffic court. Serious crimes go to criminal court. If the charge is particularly severe, the juvenile may be charged as an adult. Punishments include fines, loss of license or even jail time.
Drinking and Texting Laws Apply
Persons under age 21 are not allowed to buy alcohol. A juvenile driver who tests positive for alcohol after a traffic stop or accident can be charged with driving under the influence.
A DUI, which also applies to controlled substances like marijuana or cocaine, is a criminal offense. Similarly, drivers under the age of 21 must obey applicable state laws governing use of cell phone and mobile devices while driving.
Juvenile Criminal Driving Can Affect Insurance
Juvenile drivers are often included on the insurance of a parent. The insurance costs for a juvenile driver may rise if the juvenile breaks the law while driving. After multiple speeding tickets and other criminal offenses, the court may impose an SR 22 requirement on the juvenile. SR 22 is a type of pricey financial insurance ordered by the court for drivers whose license is suspended or revoked.
A Criminal Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding vehicular offenses and juvenile drivers can be complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For ore detailed, specific information, please contact a criminal lawyer.