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Governor Signs Graduated License Bill Into Law

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RALEIGH (AP) — Gov. Jim Hunt signed a billinto law Wednesdaythat imposes driving restrictions on beginning, teen-age driversfor at least their first year and a half behind the wheel.

The law establishes a three-tier system for beginning driversunder age 18 starting Dec. 1.

``Graduated licensing does not punish our young people. Itsupports and helps them,'' the governor said. ``It gives them thetools they need to be safe on the road.''

State Rep. Debbie Clary, R-Gaston, Sen. Roy Cooper, D-Nash, andTrent Ellis, a Cary teen-ager seriously injured in a crash when hewas 17, joined Hunt for the bill-signing ceremony.

``To the best of my knowledge, North Carolina has the mostcomprehensive graduated driver licensing bill in the nation,'' saidTom Enright, region IV administratior of the National HighwayTraffic Safety Adminstration. Michigan and Florida also havefull-scale graduated licensing systems, he said.

Under the law, new teen-age drivers 15 or older must drive afull year with an adult. Then they graduate to unsupervised drivingbetween 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., or when driving to and from work orvolunteer service outside those hours. After six months without aviolation, they can advance to the third level - unsuperviseddriving without restrictions.

The only exception to the new law is that teens driving under theprovisional licensecandrive during other hours if they aregoing to or from work.

Some teens and parents think those who are involved in sports and otherformal recreational activities should also be allowed to drive, but thereis no provision in the law for those circumstances. Copyright ©1997 AssociatedPress. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,rewritten, or distributed.


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