New bill proposed would increase provisional license age

Mixed reactions set in across campus regarding the change

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Nash Rood

  In 2013, assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) decided to take action to remediate the grief of losing a daughter in a car accident.

  A bill he proposed – which would have increased both the hours of curfew and mandated provisional license time – was vetoed by California Governor Jerry Brown, but Frazier is making another attempt.

  His new bill, AB-63, will work to reduce teen driving accidents by extending driver restrictions for new drivers 21 and under.

  The temporary year-long restrictions currently imposed on provisional licenses given to underage drivers after holding a student driver permit for six months would be extended to the entire period of time between the driver’s 18th and 21st birthday.

  Some supporters of the law believe the problem it addresses is very grave and should be addressed.

  “The leading cause of death for people 18-20 years old are car accidents,” Granite Bay High health teacher Terry Stafford said, “and 16-18 is not a long enough period of time for a provisional license to make sense.”

  There is no consensus, however, on whether or not the law would be effective.

   Violators would receive an infraction resulting in a fine or mandatory community service – with some exceptions including those in the military and emancipated minors.

  “Provisional licenses exist to deter people from doing stupid things,” Stafford said, “so anything that saves lives is a good idea.”

  However, some critics are concerned the bill might have a negative effect in their lives by threatening their livelihood and Constitutional liberties.

  “I am concerned about the inconveniences that may arise for college-age students,” world language teacher Jill Cova said, “because not everyone has their own car.”

  Junior Jake McKillop said such a law could impede the ability of some who need to have a job to sustain themselves financially.

  “I use my license in good, productive ways,” McKillop said. “Without the freedom to drive, I’d probably lose a lot of opportunities that work provides.”

   The bill would authorize a licensee who is 18 to 20 years of age to keep a copy of his or her class or work schedule to be exempt from some terms of the provisional license restriction. Still, critics say many reasonable circumstances in which they operate vehicles would be considered breaking the law.

  “People over 18 are considered an adult and can even get married,” said Deputy Gregory Hopping, the GBHS school resource officer, “and if you become an adult, you should be treated as (one).”

  Some are concerned with the curfew hours, which conflict with some religious and cultural ceremonies including Christian liturgical vigils and Jewish pre-burial ceremonies. There are no religious exceptions in the bill.

  The level of enforcement is another possible issue for both supporters and opponents of the bill.

  “With stronger enforcement,” Hopping said, “people may place more attention to their driving and traffic incidents are reduced.”

  Stafford said the future will reveal if the law is truly a deterrent to reckless driving, but he added that a  larger issue is that education officials “should have never taken drivers’ ed out of (California) public schools.”

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