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New Year Brings New Law for New Adult Drivers

The DMV is reversing 106 years of history by now requiring adults to obtain a learner's permit before they can get a driver's license in Connecticut.

Changing 106 years of history in Connecticut, come Jan. 2 new adult drivers will have to hold a learner's permit for three-months before they can take a road test for a driver's license.

Highway safety issues, including the need to better understand how to operate a vehicle, and learning through practice driving prompted the need for this requirement, according to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

"Cars are more sophisticated today, traveling roads can be more dangerous for inexperienced drivers and some form of a learning period is required now for those over 18, just as we have done for those under 18," said DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey when DMV made the announcement of the change in early December.

The DMV expects that more than 30,000 people annually will be affected by this change. These include teens who delayed licensing to avoid the state's restrictions on 16- and 17-year-old drivers. The 18- and 19-year-olds this year account for about 11,000 who will need a learner's permit as an adult.

The new requirement changes 106 years of history in which an adult had no required training period to complete prior to obtaining a driver's license.

Highlights of the new requirement:

  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the state will require an adult learner's permit for new drivers who are 18 years old and over other than those holding a valid driver's license from another state.
  • The adult learner's permit must be held a minimum of 90 days prior to taking a road test.
  • Applicants will get the adult learner permit when they pass the 25-question knowledge test and vision test.
  • They will be required under state law to take the current eight-hour safe driving practices course at driving school. Passed in 2008, the law mandates that new first-time license holders must attend this course at a driving school. The cost is set by state law at $125.
  • While holding the adult learner's permit, they will need in the vehicle a qualified trainer who is either a licensed driving instructor or any driver who is over 20 years-old who has held a license for four or more consecutive years and has not been suspended at any time in the last four years.
  • Anyone over 18 who has taken the 25-question knowledge test prior to Jan. 1, 2013, will have until April 1 to obtain a license and will not need to get a learner's permit.
  • Until April 1, any adult receiving on-the-road training with a licensed driving instructor does not need an adult learner's permit.

While many states offer some version of a learner's permit for adults, Connecticut will be among a few that require it. Safety experts applaud Connecticut's step toward having a required driving practice period for adults.

"There is more license delay than there used to be, so there are more novices 18 and older, and they are vulnerable during the learner period. Connecticut has been in the forefront of GDL policy making, and has one of the strongest licensing systems in the country. This new policy extends their leadership in protecting Connecticut drivers," said Allan F. Williams, an authority on driving safety and an associate of Preusser Research Group, in Trumbull, which does safety studies for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Dr. David S. Shapiro, trauma surgeon at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center and researcher in crash prevention, added, "Automobile collisions are frequent causes of injuries — both mild and severe — we see every day in our trauma centers. The addition of an adult learner's permit can help to add confidence and safety to the inexperienced but mature driver."

The new law also carries a safety benefit for the teens who may try to avoid a training period when 16 or 17 years old, said Dr. Brendan Campbell, medical director of the Pediatric Trauma Program at Connecticut Children's. "Now they will be required to obtain additional driving experience under conditions of lower crash risk," Campbell said.

The above report is based on a press release from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.

Rob Gianazza December 29, 2012 at 04:07 PM
What I would like to see is a re-certification requirement put in place. This could be implemented by either taking an approved safety course or by state re-certification every several years. Insurance companies could be the catalyst for this by offering reduced rates for those drivers that take the course during the required period. Most Connecticut drivers that got their license when they were sixteen years old will never need a refresher course of any type until they voluntarily surrender their license in their senior years. That can span seventy years in many cases. Transportation has certainly changed during that time. The laws, the vehicles and the drivers themselves also. We also need stricter enforcement of non-licensed and suspended license violators.
Bobby Caselnova December 29, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I agree Rob, some kind of re-certification program would be a great thing. I think requiring learning permits for adults is also good especially for people around the age of 18 who still have their parents to teach them to drive, but I'm wondering about older folks who don't have their parents around. Who will be the licensed driver training and teaching them to drive? This requirement has good intentions but might be hard to implement. I forget how many hours teens were required to have on the road with their permits before they got their license, I believe it was 40. The adults will have to have their permit for 90 days, but there's no way of knowing how much actual on the road time they had in this period. Some of them might have very little, especially if they don't have a friend with a schedule that can accommodate helping them learn to drive. I hope the driver training laws work well because some of the most dangerous drivers I've seen are inexperienced teenagers and older folks who may either be inexperienced in driving or inexperienced in newer vehicles/driving laws/roads, or may just be too old and need re-certification.
Rob Gianazza December 29, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Bobby, for those over eighteen, they will need to find a significant other, sibling or friend. Having parents is not the issue. Having an experienced mentor is the issue. As for older folks, many of our seniors recognize that their reflexes, vision and hearing aren't what they used to be. Many are also sensitive to bright lights. Rather than take away their driving privileges, I propose that they also have provisional licenses similar to teens. Only their provisions would restrict driving to non rush-hour periods and not after dusk. Taking this step could make driving safer for everyone without negatively impacting our seniors mobility. Thanks for sharing!
Steven DeVaux December 30, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I think no drivers license should be issued to anyone who is still covered by their mommy or/or daddy's health insurance policy due to age. Also not before they are trusted enough to drink. Cars kill, plain and simple and putting a car in the hands of a person who has yet to take personal responsibility for themselves is not good for any of the other drivers on the road who have a right to safe roads. There's no constitutional amendment that guarantees a drivers license. It's a priviledge earned after taking responsiblity for all the other of life's responsibilities.
Kevin O'Connor December 31, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Except that the age group (16-26) is probably the best time to learn to drive given quick reflexes. Is inexperience an issue? Yes, but it will still be an issue even if you push it back ten years. Being covered under a parent's health insurance plan doesn't mean you haven't taken responsibility. There are many drivers in that age group that bought their car, pay their own car insurance, and gas. Health insurance is a just one responsibility in life, as is getting a driver's license. That being said, you fail to mention the many drivers, who have had their license for many years who no longer have the physical capabilities to drive safely. They are completely responsible for themselves yet they are unsafe drivers. Also, you just made something that isn't required by the government, now required by government. You've also made incentive for one to not be insured for health insurance. You've also made it tenfold harder for a student, fresh out of highschool or college, to get to work, further limiting their job opportunities. I think you'll also see a rise in drunk driving by newly licensed drivers. Responsibility for oneself is not correlated to safe driving ability. You're taking two subsets and making a connection on a larger set, which is not a valid correlation. I don't think we restrict getting a license more, rather make it easier for it to be taken away and/or limited. Bad drivers should be punished, not general groups of people.
Steven DeVaux December 31, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I think if you have an "accident" it is in the best interests of all of society, parents and their passengers (kids, grandparents, friends, etc) that those involved in the accident get re-certified. Also, veterans who come back to civilian life should automatically be granted the corresponding license for civilians that they had in the military with no certifications waived.

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