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Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people between 15 and 20 years old. That's why Georgia has laws that limit how much responsibility young drivers can have until they've demonstrated that they can drive safely and obey the rules of the road.

Parents of teen drivers in our state are probably familiar with Joshua's Law. This law strengthened the requirements for obtaining a Class D driver's license, which teens can be eligible for when they turn 16. In addition to completing a driver's ed class, they must have at least 40 hours of supervised driving, with at least six of those at night. They must also be in enrolled in school or proof of enrollment in a home study program.

The state also has a graduated licensing program for teens so that they aren't afforded all of the privileges of driving at once and aren't allowed to face riskier driving situations, such as nighttime driving or having multiple young passengers in the car, until they've had more experience behind the wheel. This program, for teens between 15 and 18, is called the Teen & Adult Driver Responsibility Act.

While TADRA primarily pertains to teen drivers with a Class D license, it also details requirements for moving onto a full Class C license at 18. For example, a person who holds a Class D license can't obtain a Class C license if they've had any major traffic convictions in the past year. These include a DUI, drag racing, reckless driving, hit and run and evading police.

Under Georgia law, drivers under 21 can be charged with DUI if they're found to have as low as a 0.02 blood alcohol content. Those convicted of having a BAC of 0.08 or higher can lose their license for a year after a first offense.

Many kids go off to college before they've reached 18. They may feel a greater sense of independence, but they're still subject to the same driving laws as when they were living at home. With alcohol far more readily available at college, they may be more likely to get behind the wheel after a couple of beers, thinking that they're perfectly fine to drive. However, it could result in a DUI conviction that may have a serious impact not only on their future driving privileges, but their life.

Source: Georgia Department of Driver Services, "Teen Drivers," accessed Jan. 30, 2017

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