UPDATE: Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed AB 63 this fall and Asssemblymember Jim Frazier does not intend to re-introduce it.
At 18 years old you can legally vote and be drafted – but driving is debatable.
California Assemblyman Jim Frazier, who tragically lost his 20-year-old daughter in a car crash in 2000, recently proposed amendments to Assembly Bill (AB)-63, California’s driver’s license bill. These amendments, which were approved on Sept. 15 will change existing laws for drivers licenses, permits and provisional periods.
The added amendments, which take effect beginning in 2020, will make the process of getting a driver’s license before the age of 21 much more difficult. New drivers will need to apply for a permit, show proof of completing a driver's education course and endure a 12-month provisional period like any 16 or 17-year-old today.
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The biggest difference is that the 12-month provisional period now comes with new restrictions.
Driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. will be prohibited, with the few exceptions being work, school and emergencies. Drivers with provisional licenses will therefore be required to carry work or school schedules with them at all times to prove that they are exempt from the law and they will not be allowed to drive passengers under the age of 20 unless accompanied by a 25-year-old licensed driver.
At the moment, the official consequences for breaking these new amendments have not been disclosed, but currently if a teenager breaks a provisional license restriction they are either fined or assigned community service.
This new law will put unnecessary constraints on young adults.
At 18, many young adults are no longer living at home and are fully independent. Many are attending college and some have even started families. All before reaching the legal drinking age. Enforcing a provisional period upon anyone over the age of 18 is unnecessary and, honestly, ridiculous.
One young resident of Fresno County agrees. Jane Carretero is 19 years old and a concerned mother. Carretero recently got her license and is grateful that she doesn’t have to worry about a provisional period.
She explained, “I know there are age restrictions for passengers when driving with a provisional license. If this were already in effect, I would not be able to legally drive my 4-year-old son to school. I honestly worry for young adults of the future.”
If someone with a provisional license wanted to drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. for work or school purposes, they would have to carry schedules as proof. But some employees have to call into work every day to check if they are scheduled to work.
Others can be called into work at any moment and many simply don’t have official schedules. Even for jobs with schedules, printing out and carrying updated schedules is a huge burden that many, especially those without working printers at home, would not be able to cope with.
It is true that “per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash”. Which is why it makes sense that California residents are required to take a driver’s education course. But the provisional period just does not make sense.
These new amendments need to be downsized. A little added education never hurt anyone, but restrictions on adult drivers will hurt people like Carretero and her son.
If everyone under the age of 21 was required to take a driver’s education course, it is likely that the number of crashes would decrease, but treating adults like children will only cause problems.
Danyeal Escobar, 17, is a senior at Edison High School and a youth journalist at The kNOw Youth Media, where this commentary first appeared. Connect with her at email@example.com.