Senator Debbe Leftwich announced today that House Bill 1653, the Graduated Drivers License Act, cleared the full Senate and is now headed to the Governor’s desk. The measure will provide teenage drivers with more time to develop their driving skills and learn in a low risk setting.
The Democrat from South Oklahoma City co-authored the legislation with Representative Danny Morgan, a Prague Democrat. Senator Leftwich stated that the measure follows in the footsteps of her late husband, Keith Leftwich, who brought the issue of a graduated driver’s license to the forefront.
“When I was elected I vowed to continue Keith’s legacy and save lives. HB 1653 is the last step to achieve what Keith started and what I continued in the last legislative session by extending the time from 30 days to a minimum of six months in which a beginner driver is required to possess an instruction permit before receiving a permanent driver’s license,” said Leftwich. “HB 1653 will provide teen drivers with the opportunity to learn the rules of the road and allow them necessary time to fully develop their driving skills.”
Under provisions of HB 1653, all new drivers under the age of 18 are required to have a graduated driver’s license. The driver would be restricted for up to one year from driving between the hours of 11:00pm and 5:00am without a licensed driver over 21 years of age in the passenger seat. Driving to or from work, school and church are exempted. The bill also prohibits more than one passenger in the vehicle who is under 21 unless they are a relative living in the same household, such as a sibling.
Senator Leftwich stated that HB 1653 does not restrict any teenage driving privileges, except late night cruising with a carload of teens.
The restricted license will allow the student to drive alone but only during daylight hours, except for driving to and from work, to school or to school activities or to church functions. A student driver with a restricted license can drive anytime of the day or night if a parent or legal guardian is present. The new restrictions will last for six months for a student who has completed a driver’s education course and one year for students who did not take the education course.
“As a mother of two boys who have already been through the initial driving phase, I truly believe this measure will work to the advantage of all Oklahoma motorists. There are 40 states that have tougher driving laws than Oklahoma, and those states who have implemented an anti-cruising measure such as those stated in HB 1653 have seen a drastic reduction in teen crash rates,” stated Senator Leftwich. “I’m extremely pleased that this measure was approved by the Senate and is just one step away from becoming law. This is something that will make Oklahoma’s roadways safer as well as ensure that new, teen drivers are more experienced behind the wheel.”