There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your newly-licensed teen drive away on their own for the very first time.
For the new driver, it’s a thrilling rite of passage.
For their parents, however, it can be a bit gut-wrenching, as they hope their teen driver will use their newfound freedom responsibly.
Parents in the Baton Rouge area can take comfort in knowing the state of Louisiana has special training requirements that help set teen drivers up for success. They should also know that there are special penalties for teen drivers who don’t use their privileges responsibly.
The risks of driving while young
Experts say teens have more fatal accidents than adults because they are less experienced, less skilled and more likely to be impulsive and easily distracted. In Louisiana, there were 88 fatal crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 20 in 2017, as well as 9,824 injury crashes for the same age-group.
Studies have found a number of reasons why teen drivers are prone to trouble.
- They use seatbelts less than older drivers
- They are more prone to distracted driving. (One study found that one in three teens has texted while driving — a behavior that increases their odds of crashing by about 23 times.)
For these reasons, Louisiana, along with all other 49 states and Washington D.C., has implemented a graduated licensing program that is designed to slowly give teen drivers more driving privileges as they meet age and training benchmarks.
The permit process for teen drivers in Louisiana
In Louisiana, drivers under the age of 18 must complete both a drivers’ education course and behind-the-wheel training. They cannot earn full licensure until they are at least 17.
Louisiana teens who are 14 or older can apply for a Temporary Instructional Permit. This allows the aspiring driver to operate a vehicle while they are with a driving instructor, or while taking a driving test.
The next step in the graduated licensing program is the Class E Learner’s Permit, which is available to 15 and 16-year-olds.
A teen may apply once they have completed an approved driver training program that includes at least 30 hours of classroom instruction and eight hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. The applicant must also pass a written test and vision test, and provide proof that they are enrolled in school or have already graduated.
A teen who holds a learner’s permit may drive with licensed parents, guardians, siblings and driving instructors. With the exception of siblings, who must be 18, adults who supervise teen drivers must be at least 21. Permit holders may have other family members in the car.
The intermediate license
Sixteen-year-olds are eligible to apply for a Class E Intermediate License once they meet several requirements.
- First, they must have held a learner’s permit for at least 180 days if they are not yet 17.
- Additionally, they must pass a driving test and provide proof that they have done at least 50 hours of supervised driving, including 15 hours of night-time driving.
The intermediate license gives drivers limited driving privileges until they turn 17:
- They may not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless they are accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian, a licensed adult who is at least 21, or a licensed sibling who is at least 18.
- While they may transport young people from their immediate family, they cannot have more than one non-family passenger under 21. This rule is designed to prevent teens from traveling in groups, because teens are more likely to make dangerous driving decisions when surrounded by their peers.
Finally! A full license!
At 17, the novice driver is eligible for a regular Class E Driver’s License, provided that they have parental permission, have met all of the training requirements, and can provide proof they are enrolled in school.
This license allows them to operate any personal vehicles, recreational vehicles and farm equipment under 10,000 pounds.
However, parents still have some control — a parent or guardian who feels their child is not road-ready may submit a written request to have the young driver’s permit or license be denied, revoked, cancelled or downgraded.
Special penalties for teens who party
It’s important for teens to understand that even after they are fully licensed, they can face serious consequences if they drive after even a little bit of partying.
In Louisiana, the threshold for drunk driving is a blood alcohol level of 0.08% for adults 21 and over.
However, for those under 21, the threshold is just 0.02%.
This effectively means that a teen driver who has any level of alcohol in their blood is in violation of state law.
Minors who drink and drive in Louisiana can face stiff penalties, including fines and jail time, and a driver’s license suspension for up to two years.
Is your teen facing legal issues? Pierce & Shows is here to help
The graduated licensing program helps most teens become safe, responsible drivers, but teens still do make mistakes and have accidents. If your teen driver is facing legal trouble, you need the help of a skilled Baton Rouge defense attorney who will work to resolve their legal issues and protect their future. Contact Pierce & Shows today so we can get started on your case.