Georgia’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system is a safety program that aims to decrease the risk of a teen driver causing a car accident. This system graduates a driver through three intense stages before allowing him or her to drive alone in Georgia. State lawmakers created the graduated driver’s license program in collaboration with educators, highway safety advocates and law enforcement in the hopes of decreasing the number of accidents caused by young and inexperienced drivers.
What Is a Graduated License Program?
The typical graduated licensing process involves three steps: obtaining a learner’s permit, practicing driving while under adult supervision and passing the tests for a driver’s license. Georgia’s GDL system goes through these phases with a focus on teen driver education. Georgia encourages parents to teach their teens the basics of driver safety during all three stages of the GDL system.
Learner Stage. A young driver who is at least 15 years of age may obtain an instructional permit upon passing a written exam. The driver will then enter the Learner Stage: only supervised drives with licensed passengers who are at least 21 years old are allowed.
Intermediate Stage. The state may then grant an intermediate license (Class D) to drivers who are 16 to 18 and who have held instructional permits for at least 12 months. These drivers must also pass a driving test. In this stage, drivers cannot operate motor vehicles between midnight and 6 a.m.
Full Privilege Stage. In the third stage, a driver who is 18 or older with a Class D license who has had no major traffic convictions in the last year will receive a full license (Class C). A Class C license releases a driver from the restrictions of the previous two stages.
GDL systems have been in place since the early 1990s. Since then, different states have enacted their own laws regarding GDL programs. In Georgia, for example, Joshua’s Law states that drivers ages 16 to 18 may only drive with family members as their passengers for the first six months of having a new driver’s license. A driver must fulfill all the requirements of one stage before moving onto the next.
How Does it Help Prevent the Risk of a Car Accident?
The point of Georgia’s GDL system is to reduce the risk of young drivers causing car accidents. In Georgia, a high number of serious and fatal auto accidents involve actions and behaviors common among young people, such as speeding, racing, drunk driving and distracted driving. The GDL system is an effort to prevent these types of car accidents through further education, safety training and experience for young drivers while in low-risk situations.
Graduating a new driver in three phases over three or more years can address and reduce key behaviors by teens that increase the risk of an accident or serious injury, such as not wearing a seat belt. It is an intense educational system that gives a new driver the opportunity to gain important real-world experience behind the wheel without putting the driver or others at risk of serious injuries.
Issues With Georgia Issuing Driver’s Licenses Without a Road Test
Programs like Georgia’s GDL system aim to reduce the number of fatal car accidents involving teen drivers. New legislative changes connected to the coronavirus, however, mean Georgia is now making exceptions that could potentially interfere with teen driver safety. Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order on April 23, 2020 that allows contactless road testing for new drivers to get their licenses.
While the emergency order is active, drivers between 16 and 18 who meet the requirements may obtain driver’s licenses without passing road tests. These drivers will then need to return to complete their road tests in person before September 30, 2020. The order is concerning for many drivers in Georgia who are now worried about the safety of the roads. Teen drivers who do not have to pass road tests may be unfit for full driving privileges.
Contact a Gwinnett County car accident attorney if you get into an accident with a teen driver during Georgia’s COVID-19 emergency orders. The teen, his or her family, or another party may owe you financial compensation.