ASSEMBLY TRANSPORTATION, PUBLIC WORKS AND INDEPENDENT AUTHORITIES COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

ASSEMBLY, No. 1571

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:JUNE 14, 2012

 

††††† The Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee reports favorably and with committee amendments Assembly Bill No. 1571.

††††† As amended and reported, this bill adds new education and practice requirements for applicants and holders of special learnerís permits and examination permits.

††††† Current law provides that under the Stateís graduated driver licensing system, persons who are at least 16 years of age can obtain a special learnerís permit for the purpose of preparing to qualify for a probationary license by operating a motor vehicle while taking a required course of behind-the-wheel automobile driving education. Upon successful completion of a six-hour course of behind-the-wheel automobile driving education, a special learnerís permit holder may engage in supervised practice driving.† A person who is at least 17 years of age can obtain an examination permit for the purpose of supervised practice driving but is not required to enroll in, or complete, the behind-the-wheel course to obtain the examination permit.† Drivers who satisfy the requirements of the special learnerís permit or examination permit, including driving under supervision for six months and passing a road test, move on to a probationary driverís license pursuant to which they are authorized to practice unsupervised driving with certain passenger, hourly, and other restrictions.

††††† Under the bill, an applicant for a special learnerís permit or examination permit who is under 18 years of age cannot obtain the permit unless the applicant, and at least one of the permit applicantís parents or guardians, has first completed a teen driver orientation program approved by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety, in consultation with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).† The teen driver orientation program may be completed by the applicantís parent or guardian through an on-line provider approved by the Chief Administrator of the MVC.† In the event that a parent or guardian is unable to complete the teen driver orientation program, the bill provides that completion by another relative who is at least 21 years of age, or by a supervising adult who is at least 21 years of age and who has been licensed to drive a passenger automobile or motorcycle for at least three years, shall be deemed to meet the requirement.† Under the bill, the teen driver orientation program shall also be made available to, but not required of, the parent or guardian of an examination permit applicant who is at least 18 years of age but less than 21.† The bill requires all permit applicants to submit to the MVC a certificate indicating that the applicant has completed the teen driver orientation program.† The chief administrator shall suspend or postpone the driving privileges of any applicant who submits a fraudulent certificate of completion.

††††† This bill further changes the graduated driver licensing law by requiring holders of examination permits and special learnerís permits under the age of 21 to complete a minimum number of hours of certified practice driving.† Persons with a special learnerís permit have to satisfy the behind-the-wheel automobile driving education requirement; in addition, they have to complete at least 50 hours of practice driving, ten hours of which shall be completed during hours of darkness.† Persons 17 to 20 years old who had been issued an examination permit have to complete at least 50 hours of practice driving, ten hours of which shall be completed during hours of darkness.† The parent or guardian, or the supervising driver, of a permit holder certifies that these hours of practice driving were completed.† The chief administrator shall suspend the driving privileges of any permit holder who submits a fraudulent certification.

††††† The bill provides that the six-hour, behind-the-wheel automobile driving education course required pursuant to the Stateís graduated driver licensing law must be private and one-on-one.

††††† The bill requires the MVC to adopt standard, up-to-date guidelines to be implemented by public, private, and parochial schools and licensed driversí schools offering courses of behind-the-wheel automobile driving education.† The bill requires the guidelines to be developed by the MVC in consultation with the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the State Department of Education, and licensed driversí schools in this State.

††††† The bill increases from six months to 12 months the amount of time that a permit holder must hold such a permit before becoming eligible for a probationary license.

††††† The bill requires the distribution of informational brochures to the parents and guardians of beginning drivers under the age of 18 at approved teen driver orientation programs.† Under current law, such brochures are submitted at the time a permit is issued to a beginning driver.† The bill also requires a sample practice driving log, in addition to other required information, to be included in the brochure.

††††† This bill was pre-filed for introduction in the 2012-2013 session pending technical review.† As reported, the bill includes the changes required by technical review, which has been performed.

 

COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS:

††††† The committee amended the bill to remove a requirement that the required parent or guardian teen driver orientation program not exceed 90 minutes.

††††† The committee also removed a requirement that an applicant for a special learnerís permit or an examination permit submit to the MVC a certificate indicating that one of the applicantís parents or guardians, or other relative or supervising adult completed the teen driver orientation program. †The applicant still must submit a certificate to the MVC indicating that the applicant completed the teen driver orientation program.

††††† Finally, the committee amended the bill to require holders of examination permits and special learnerís permits under the age of 21 to complete 50 hours of certified practice driving, ten hours of which shall be completed during hours of darkness, prior to obtaining a probationary driverís license.† The parent or guardian, or the supervising driver, of a permit holder would certify that these hours of practice driving were completed.