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What Are the Driving Restrictions for New Texas Motorists?

Posted on in Juvenile Law

Karnes County traffic violation defense attorney

Obtaining a driver’s license for the first time can be one of the most exciting events in a teenager’s life. After spending hours behind the wheel, attending various driving courses, and getting yelled at by nervous parents as they are learning to drive, being able to finally ride on the roads without parental supervision can make a minor finally feel independent. However, driving without parents in the car does not mean that young motorists have surpassed the various restrictions allotted to new drivers. Many teens incorrectly believe that once they have a driver’s license, they have the same rights on the road as any other driver. Understanding the restrictions that exist for new drivers is extremely important before hitting the road, especially since traffic violations can have a significant effect on a person's license and insurance rates, and serious violations may even lead to criminal charges and a lifelong criminal record.

License Phases

Each state has its own rules for new drivers, and it is imperative to have a good understanding of this, whether you are a parent or a new teen driver. In Texas, there are two types of driver’s licenses, known as “phases,” and each phase has its own rules and regulations.

Phase one licenses are known as a "learner" license. Under the Texas Graduated Driver License program, those under the age of 18 must have a learner license for at least six months before they can move on to a full-fledged driver’s license. Individuals who have this type of restricted license can only drive if they have a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old riding in the front seat with them. These drivers are also unable to use any electronic devices while driving, including “hands-free” devices. Once these motorists reach their 18th birthday or have the restricted license for six months, their learner license expires, and they graduate to a "provisional" license.

The provisional license is the second phase for new Texas drivers. Although they are not required to have another licensed adult in the car at all times, these motorists are not allowed to have more than one other passenger under the age of 21 in the car. There is also a curfew that will apply, restricting these new drivers from driving between midnight and 5 am. Provisional license holders are still unable to use electronic devices until they turn 18 years old.

Possible Consequences

Restricted drivers are far from exempt from the law, although many people falsely believe that they cannot receive a traffic violation while on a learner license. Typically, a restricted driver's legal punishment for traffic violations is an extension of their restricted license. However, in some cases, restricted licenses may also be suspended in Texas. In other words, if motorists are found breaking traffic laws on a restricted license, a court will often decide to increase the number of months that they are required to have the restricted license before they are eligible to test for a full license. Some judges may also require additional courses to be taken as punishment for the violation and as an attempt to better educate a teen driver on roadway safety. Depending on the violation, these may include “seat belt” education schools, drug and alcohol driving awareness programs, driving safety courses, and the Younger Driver Education Program.

Contact an Atascosa County Traffic Violation Lawyer

When receiving a traffic violation, most drivers simply pay their fine and move on, accepting the consequences that come with a conviction. However, this may not always be the best option, especially for a new teen motorist. There are many criminal defense tactics that can be used to defend an inexperienced driver in front of the court, and a skilled attorney can help. At BCP Criminal Defense Attorneys, we believe that all drivers should avoid negative marks on their driving record, especially at a young age. A single traffic stop can result in high fines and even higher insurance rates. For assistance defending your new driver, call our Pleasanton criminal defense attorneys at 830-769-1010 to set up a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.txdot.gov/driver/kids-teens/education.html

https://www.dps.texas.gov/driverlicense/gdl.htm

https://www.dps.texas.gov/driverlicense/teendriver.htm

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