New driving restrictions for Michigan teens 04.27.2011

Written by David Green.

New restrictions for Michigan’s teen drivers went into effect March 30. The changes effect only Level 2 drivers.

Level 2 drivers are now prohibited from having more than one passenger under the age of 21. Exceptions are granted if passengers are the members of the driver’s immediate family or if the driver is traveling to or from school or a school-sanctioned event.

A further restriction governs night driving: Level 2 drivers are prohibited from driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The only exceptions granted are for driving to and from work or with a parent, legal guardian or licensed adult over 21 years of age.

A violation of the Level 2 restrictions under the Graduated Driver Licensing program is a civil infraction and will result in two points on the teen’s license. A notice of the civil infraction will be sent to the designated parent or legal guardian.

In addition, the period the teen must have a Level 2 license will be extended for 12 months. The teen will be required to appear for a driver reëxamination with possible license suspension and/or additional restrictions imposed.

A question of the Secretary of State website asks: My Level 2 teen driver has a school-sanctioned event that will necessitate travel after 10 p.m. Can he/she drive unaccompanied under the school-sanctioned event exception?

Answer: No. Level 2 drivers are prohibited from driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to school or a school-sanctioned event unless accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or licensed adult over 21 years old. Level 2 licensed drivers may only drive unaccompanied (without a parent, legal guardian, or licensed adult over 21 years old) between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. when traveling to or from work.

Changes in the law address what law enforcement officials see as a teen passenger problem as well as a teen driver problem.

Teen passengers often distract a beginning driver and encourage greater risk-taking.

The cash risk for teenage drivers increases incrementally with one, two, or three or more passengers.  With three or more passengers, fatal crash risk is about three times higher than when a beginner is driving alone.

While night driving with passengers is particularly lethal for teens, many fatal crashes with teen passengers occur during the day. Law enforcement authorities suggest that the best policy is to restrict teenage passengers, especially multiple teens, all the time.

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