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Lacey's Law Places Increased Restrictions on Young Drivers in PA

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports show teenagers continue to have a disproportionately high number of crashes.

The changes include new restrictions on the numbers of non-family passengers a driver under age 18 can carry and an extension of the behind-the-wheel training component of the learner's permit period to include night and bad weather driving.

The state has restricted the number of young passengers teen drivers can take in their cars. Gov. Tom Corbett today signed into law new safeguards for teenage drivers.

It also changes seat belt requirements to require drivers and passengers under age 18 to be belted at all times in a moving vehicle. If they are not, a police officer could pull over anyone suspected of violating that law and write them a $75 ticket.

The bill, known as "Lacey's Law" was sponsored by Rep. Kathy Watson, a Bucks County Republican, who had a constituent family lose their daughter, Lacey Gallagher, in an April 2007 crash where she was one of six teens riding in an SUV. None were wearing seat belts.

The passenger restrictions would limit new teen drivers to one other teen passenger for their first six months with a license. With no accidents or traffic violations in that time, the limit goes to three for the duration of the junior license.

For the first six months after receiving a junior drivers license, the driver is not allowed to transport more than one passenger under 18 who is not an immediate family member unless a parent or legal guardian is in the vehicle.

If a junior driver has not been convicted of a driving violation or been responsible for a crash, then after six months, he or she can transport up to three passengers under 18 who are not immediate family members without a parent or legal guardian in the car.

It also increases the amount of behind-the-wheel training required for young drivers. They now must have 65 hours of behind-the-wheel practice up from 50 hours. Ten hours of the time must be clocked at night and five hours must be during bad weather.

In addition, the new law makes failure to wear proper restraints a primary offense, so police can stop drivers under age 18 if they or their passengers are not wearing seatbelts, booster seats or similar equipment. Violations carry a $75 fine.

Look for this new statute to act as a 'gateway' for police to pull over younger drivers that they suspect are not abiding by these new rules. Not wearing a seatbelt for a teen driver is now a primary offense. Meaning, the police can pull someone over for not wearing their belt. Additional citations and problems can arise after the stop is effectuated. If you've been cited as a 'teen driver' contact the experienced Traffic Ticket firm of Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC.