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Graduated Driver License (GDL) System Law in Minnesota

After more than 6 years of trying, Minnesotans For Safe Driving’s main legislative initiative finally passed the Legislature and this law became effective August 1, 2008. The first parts of the GDL system have been in law since 1999, but the further safety measures for teens with new provisional licenses were the most controversial and took longer to pass. These new safety measures are affecting newly licensed drivers ages 16 and 17. They will have new restrictions to their driving for the first year of driving on their provisional license. During the first six months the new licensee cannot operate a vehicle carrying more than one passenger under age 20 who is not a member of their immediate family. That increases to allow three non- family passengers for the second 6 months.
Also during the first six months of provisional licensure, a person under age 18 is prohibited from driving between midnight and 5 a.m., except when the driver is driving due to a job; or the driver is accompanied by a licensed driver or state identification card holder who is at least age 25. 
Minnesotans For Safe Driving would like to thank the two authors of this bill, Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing) and Rep. Kim Norton (DFL –Rochester). We would also like to thank Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls) and Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) for all of their support on making sure that this bill made it through committee and the floor. 

For an up to date report on the effectiveness of Minnesota’s Graduated Driving law go to this report by Leslie Seymour from the Department  of Health   https://netfiles.umn.edu/cts/tzdconference/2013/25Seymour.pdf

The complete Graduated Driver License Law in Minnesota including changes in 2014, is as follows:

Stage 1- Instruction Permit

  • Must be at least 15; Must complete 30 hours of classroom education and be enrolled in behind-the-wheel instruction
  • Must pass the knowledge test, have parent or legal guardian approval; and
  • While unlicensed, must not have had a crash-related moving violation or an alcohol/controlled substance-related violation (a violation of one or more statutes, including DWI, Implied Consent, Open Bottle, or Underage Drinking and Driving/Not a Drop Law).
  • Permit holder may drive under the supervision of a parent, guardian or other licensed driver 21 or older occupying the seat beside them.
  • The driver and all passengers under 18 must wear their seat belts/child safety restraints.
  • May not operate a vehicle while using a cellular or wireless telephone, whether handheld or hands-free, while vehicle is in operation.

Stage 2 – To Obtain a Provisional License

  • Must be at least 16 and have completed six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction;
  • Must have held a permit for six months, with no convictions for moving violations or alcohol/controlled substance-related violations (a violation of one or more statutes, including DWI, Implied Consent, Open Bottle, or Underage Drinking and Driving/Not a Drop Law)
  • Must have at least 40 hours of supervised driving, including 15 hours of night driving, verified by parent/guardian with logs to prove the supervision; Parent and permit driver needs to attend a parent/child 90 min. educational meeting as part of the Driver Education program or have an additional 10 hours of supervised driving.
  • Must pass the road test.

While driving with a Provisional License

  • The driver and all passengers under 18 must wear their seat belt/child safety restraint.
  •  May not operate a vehicle while using a cellular or wireless telephone, whether handheld or hands-free, while vehicle is in operation which includes no texting.
  • The first 6 months of driving, no more than one person under the age of 20 can be in the vehicle except for immediate family members. After 6 months that number increases to 3.  Additionally, the provisional license holder has restrictions placed upon driving between the hours of midnight and 5:00am for the first 6 months.

Stage 3 - Full License

  • Must be at least 18 or
  • Must have held a provisional license for one year with no convictions for crash-related moving violations, no alcohol/controlled substance-related violations (a violation of one or more statutes, including DWI, Implied Consent, Open Bottle, or Underage Drinking and Driving/Not a Drop Law) and no more than one non-crash-related moving violation; and
  • Parent/guardian must attest to at least 10 additional hours of supervised driving.

For the Instructional Permit holder, a conviction for using a cell phone or texting extends for six months from the date of the conviction the ability to test for a provisional license. For a Provisional License holder, if the incident was crash related or the driver has a previous moving violation, it extends the ability to apply for an “under 21 year license, or a full license” for one year or until they are 18. Since a ticket will be given, a fine up to $100 can be received for this violation.

Teen Driver Laws

This page tells about the Graduated Driving laws and all other laws for teens that are different than for adults
https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/laws/Pages/teen-drivers.aspx

This page tells about the new changes in driver education programs and what  parents need to do differently
https://dps.mn.gov/DIVISIONS/OTS/TEEN-DRIVING/Pages/default.aspx

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a
Graduated driver licensing calculator to Estimate GDL benefits by state

For every state and D.C., the Institute has estimated the effects of strengthening or weakening 5 key GDL provisions: permit age, practice driving hours, license age, and night driving and passenger restrictions. The projections are based on research showing what matters most when it comes to preventing fatal crashes and collision claims among teen drivers.  Go to this website and see how more teen lives could be saved with strengthening the GDL laws
http://www.iihs.org/laws/gdl_calculator.aspx

Vanessa’s Law

In May 2004, a law went into effect referred to as “Vanessa’s Law” in memory of Vanessa Weiss, who was killed in May 2003 just days before her 16th birthday. She was a passenger in a vehicle driven by an unlicensed 15-year-old. Provisions of this law apply to drivers under age 18.

  • An unlicensed teen who received a crash-related moving violation or an alcohol/controlled substance-related violation (a violation of one or more statutes, including DWI, Implied Consent, Open Bottle, or Underage Drinking and Driving/Not a Drop Law) cannot be given a license, including an instruction permit or provisional license, until age 18. When this person turns 18, s/he must pass the driver’s license knowledge test, obtain an instruction permit and hold it for at least six months, and then pass the road test.
  •  A provisional license holder whose driving privilege was revoked due to a crash-related moving violation or an alcohol/controlled substance-related violation cannot regain a license until age 18. At that time, the person must complete the following steps to obtain a full driver’s license:

o    Fulfill all reinstatement requirements, including the payment of fees which can be up to $680 depending on circumstances;

o    Complete the classroom portion of a formal driver education course;

o    Pass the driver’s license knowledge test;

o    Obtain an instruction permit and hold it for three months;

o    Complete a driver’s behind-the-wheel class.

Not a Drop.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to drink alcohol. If an underage person drinks and drives, they face penalties under Minnesota’s “Not a Drop” law in addition to DWI laws.
Under “Not a Drop,” if an officer observes an underage person operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle and determines they have been drinking; they can lose their license for 30 to 180 days. The length of suspension will depend on the driver’s prior record.