Local News

Governor Signs Graduated License Bill Into Law

Posted April 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Gov. Jim Hunt signed a bill into law Wednesday that imposes driving restrictions on beginning, teen-age drivers for at least their first year and a half behind the wheel.

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

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

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

``To the best of my knowledge, North Carolina has the most comprehensive graduated driver licensing bill in the nation,'' said Tom Enright, region IV administratior of the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration. Michigan and Florida also have full-scale graduated licensing systems, he said.

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

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

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.