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Pennsylvania Adopts New Teen Licensing Rules

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers Report on New Law in Pennsylvania

This October, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a new law that updates the state’s graduated driver’s license (GDL) system, bringing it up to par with 40 other states that have done the same over the past decade. The new rules will go into effect at the end of December.

The bill had strong support in the state legislature, passing in the House 188-6. It was sponsored by Representative Katharine Watson, R-Bucks, and more than two dozen others. It is referred to as “Lacey’s Law,” after teenager Lacey Gallagher, who lost her life in a car crash on prom night in 2007. This new law makes substantial updates to existing junior driver’s license rules. States with similar GDL laws have experienced up to a 40 percent drop in teen motor vehicle accident fatalities once the rules took effect.

Current Law

Pennsylvania’s current law prohibits drivers ages 16 and 17 to drive between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am, and limits the number of passengers in a junior driver’s vehicle to the number of seatbelts present. A six month learning period is required, during which new drivers with their learner’s permits must spend 50 hours behind the wheel with an adult over age 21 in the vehicle with them. A new driver’s license can be suspended for 90 days if the teen accrues more than six points on his or her license or is issued a ticket for driving more than 26 miles per hour over the speed limit.

The New Law

The new law also alters the passenger rule, lengthens the amount of time drivers with learner’s permits must spend behind the wheel and introduces a new seatbelt rule. Come December, new drivers will only be able to carry one non-family member passenger under age 18 for the first six months of being licensed; then, until they reach 18, new drivers may have up to three passengers under age 18 in the car with them.

The law additionally lengthens and sets new requirements for teen learner’s permit practice time. Soon, teen permit drivers will need to complete 65 hours of drive time. Five of these hours must be spent driving in poor weather and 10 hours must occur at night.

One of the more dramatic changes in the law is the new seatbelt requirement. After “Lacey’s Law” takes effect, failure to wear a seatbelt will be considered a primary offense for drivers and passengers under age 18. This means that police officers will be able to pull over a driver solely for failing to wear a seatbelt. Lawmakers believe that allowing police officers to pull over unbelted teen drivers will help reduce the prevalence of this risky behavior.

McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC:  Experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers

Representative Watson is confident that Pennsylvania’s new GDL law will help keep teenagers safer behind the wheel and reduce teen motor vehicle crash fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your options.  To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers, contact McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC today at 215-569-8488 or submit an online contact form. We provide legal representation to injured victims and families in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.