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Dec 31, 2010 4:39 PM by Chris Welty

New Law Adds Restrictions for Young Drivers

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Young drivers face tougher restrictions
on the road starting Saturday, and parents will have to wade
through a lengthier list of requirements for their children to get
licenses.
The change to teenage driving rules is among the most noticeable
of 40 news laws that take effect in the new year, laws passed in
the last legislative session that either created new statutes or
tweaked existing ones. Most of the changes are modest.
Teenagers face more requirements to move from a learner's permit
to a full driver's license. The driving restrictions, enacted in a
bill by Rep. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston, were described as a way to
improve safety for teenage drivers.
"They are at higher risk than other age groups," said State
Police Sgt. Markus Smith.
Current law allows 15-year-olds to get learner's permits if they
have gone to driving school and passed a written test, and they
can't drive by themselves but must be with parents, guardians or
licensed drivers at least 21 years old. At 16, teenagers can get
driver's licenses if they've had permits for at least six months
and pass a driving test. A 17-year-old can get a driver's license
by passing a written and driving test, without the other
requirements.
Under the new list of requirements, to get an unrestricted
driver's license, any first-time applicant must have a signed
statement by a parent, guardian or licensed driver at least 21
years old affirming that they've put in 50 hours of supervised
driving time. Fifteen of the hours must be driven at night.
The new law also includes an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. driving curfew in
which anyone under 17 years old can't drive unless accompanied by
an adult at least 21 years old or a sibling at least 18 years old,
according to the state police. It also contains restrictions on how
many passengers can be in the car with a driver under the age of
17.
Smith said the Department of Public Safety will be working to
make sure parents and teenagers are aware of the new driving law
changes.
"We're going to try to simplify it and put that information out
there in a real basic format, to try to educate the public. We
don't want this to be complicated for the public to understand,"
he said.
Among some of the other laws taking effect with the start of the
new year are:
- A requirement that the Board of Elementary and Secondary
Education and the Louisiana Board of Regents stream their meetings
live on the Internet and archive them online, with exceptions only
if there are technical problems beyond the boards' control.
- A change in the vote required for removal of a local public
school superintendent from a majority of the school board to
two-thirds of the board. The law also prohibits school board
members from meddling with hiring and demotion decisions in school
districts.
- Reporting requirements aimed at getting more information about
the numbers of jobs and the size of payroll created by the state's
economic development grant dollars. The bills require more detailed
reporting about the projects that get money from two funds overseen
by the Department of Economic Development.
- A revamp of the statewide retirement programs for new hires,
particularly rewriting the pension plans for new teachers, changing
the employment years used to figure some benefits, the eligibility
standards and the amount some workers contribute to their pension
plans.

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