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After SUV Rollover Hospitalizes 7, Chief Provides Teen Driver Rules

Clarendon Hills Police Chief Ted Jenkins sent Patch a breakdown of the law regulating teen drivers after an teen-driver accident last week led to the hospitalization of seven teens.

Editor's note: The following is a letter from Clarendon Hills Police Chief Ted Jenkins in response to calls he's received following the Nov. 2 one-car accident in Hinsdale that hospitalized seven teens. Read Patch's coverage of the accident here.

Following a recent event in Hinsdale in which a 16-year-old driver and seven underage occupants were involved in a serious automobile accident, my office received numerous calls from concerned parents.

Most of the calls related to, “What is a graduated driver’s license and what does it mean?"

Recognizing that inexperienced drivers are more prone to distractions and driving errors in certain environments, Secretary of State Jesse White established the Teen Driver Safety Task Force to study how a graduated driver’s license could isolate a teen driver from the most dangerous distractions and environments while gaining driving experience on the road.

The resulting law took effect January 1, 2008, and since then teen driving deaths have dropped 50 percent.

In plain language, the law looks like this:

Permit Phase Drivers Age 15

  • Parent/legal guardian consent required to obtain an instruction permit.
  • Must be enrolled in an approved driver education course, and must pass vision and written tests.
  • Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).
  • Permit must be held for a minimum of nine months.
  • Must practice driving a minimum of 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, supervised by a parent or adult age 21 or older with a valid driver’s license.
  • Must not acquire any driving convictions during the nine-month permit phase.
  • Number of passengers limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • All occupants must wear safety belts.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.
  • Permit is valid for up to two years.

Sanctions

  • To obtain court supervision for a traffic violation, a driver must appear in court with a parent/legal guardian and also must attend traffic safety school. Limit one court supervision for serious driving offenses.
  • A moving violation conviction results in a nine-month waiting period before applying for a driver’s license.
  • Not eligible for any hardship permit.
  • Anyone caught driving without a permit is ineligible to obtain a driver’s license until age 18.

Initial Licensing Phase — Drivers Age 16-17

  • Parent/legal guardian must certify that a minimum of 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, has been completed.
  • Parent/legal guardian must accompany teen to provide written consent to obtain a driver’s license, OR complete and notarize an Affidavit/Consent for Minor to Drive form.
  • Must have completed a state-approved driver education course.
  • Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).
  • Must maintain a conviction-free driving record for six months prior to turning 18 before moving to the Full Licensing Phase. A traffic conviction during the Initial Licensing Phase may extend restrictions beyond age 18.
  • All occupants must wear safety belts.
  • For the first 12 months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the passenger(s) is a sibling, stepsibling, child or stepchild of the driver. After this period, the number of passengers is limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.

Sanctions

  • To obtain court supervision for a traffic violation, a driver must appear in court with a parent/legal guardian and also must attend traffic safety school. Limit one court supervision for serious driving offenses.
  • A moving violation conviction before age 18 generates a Secretary of State warning letter to the parent and teenager.
  • A moving violation conviction that occurs within the first year of licensing will result in a six-month extension of the passenger limitation, which allows only one unrelated passenger under age 20.
  • Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.
  • Suspended drivers must attend a remedial education course, may be retested and must pay a $70 reinstatement fee.

Full Licensing Phase - Drivers 18-20

  • No age-related restrictions apply except in cases where a driver fails to move from the Initial Licensing Phase to the Full Licensing Phase.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.

Sanctions

  • Limit one court supervision for serious driving offenses.
  • Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.
  • Suspended drivers are required to pay a $70 reinstatement fee.

Laws Parents and Teens Should Know

  • Parental Access to Teen Driving Records — Parents may view their teen's (under age 18) driving record free through the Secretary of State Web site. Several security features will protect the teen's privacy and ensure that only the parents/legal guardians are granted access to the teen's driving record.
  • Driver's License Suspension for Alcohol Consumption — A person under the age of 21 who is found guilty or granted court supervision for a violation of state law or local ordinance relating to illegal consumption, possession, purchase or receipt of alcohol, regardless of whether a vehicle was involved will face a loss of driving privileges, in addition to any fine imposed. Court supervision for any of these offenses will result in a three-month suspension of driving privileges; a first conviction results in a six-month suspension of driving privileges; a second conviction results in a 12-month suspension of driving privileges and a third or subsequent conviction will result in a revocation of driving privileges.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for young people 15 to 20. At the end of the day, teen driver’s safety is a cooperative issue involving parents, teens and the police department and awareness is the key. The Clarendon Hills Police Department has and will continue to enforce graduated driver’s license restrictions and will assist parents in any way we can to raise awareness and compliance. Additional material is available on our website and at www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

Regards,

Chief Ted Jenkins

Clarendon Hills Police Department

clarhillsmom November 09, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I have heard that even if you are passenger in a car with a driver that violates the passenger limit law; you too are also in trouble as a passenger; to a lesser extent...anyone have that info?

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