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Smoking can cost teens their drivers license

Teens convicted of possession, purchase, consumption or receipt of tobacco products stand to lose their driver's licenses.

Teens convicted of possession, purchase, consumption or receipt of tobacco products stand to lose their driver's licenses, according to Texas law. They also must attend a tobacco awareness program approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Tobacco awareness is just one of several additional restrictions teenagers face when working to earn — and keep — a driver's license. As of Jan. 1, 2002, the state of Texas tightened restrictions by implementing the Graduated Driver License program. The GDL was designed by legislators to lower teen traffic violations and accidents by setting up a system that gives them driving experience over time.

The two-phase program begins with the issuance of a learner’s permit for six months. Teens have to be at least 15 years old and, during the six months, successfully pass a driver's education course. Drivers with a learner's permit can only get behind the wheel if supervised by someone 21 or older. They also must be either attending high school or have a diploma.

Phase 2, the provisional license, does not require an adult in the car, but does restrict the number of underage passengers and when that teen driver may be on the road. Also, the driver must be 16 and have successfully been through Phase 1 to receive a provisional license. Phase 2 licenses are good for one year.

Provisional license holders cannot drive with more than one passenger in the vehicle under the age of 21 who is not a family member. They also may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless they are going to work or a school activity or during a medical emergency.

As of Sept. 1, 2009, under-18 drivers are restricted from using wireless communications, INCLUDING HANDS-FREE, except during emergencies.

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