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NO. 140. AN ACT RELATING TO A GRADUATED DRIVER LICENSE PROGRAM.

(H.97)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 23 V.S.A. § 606 is amended to read:

§ 606. AGE LIMIT

An operator's license shall not be issued to any person under *[eighteen]* 18 years of age. Any person who has previously held a junior operator’s license in Vermont prior to application for a license under this section shall have held that license for a minimum of six months or until age 18 and maintained a record without any suspensions, revocations or recalls for the six-month period preceding licensure under this section.

Sec. 2. 23 V.S.A. § 607 is amended to read:

§ 607. JUNIOR OPERATOR’S LICENSE

(a) A junior operator's license may be issued only to persons who:

(1) are *[sixteen]* 16 and *[seventeen]* 17 years of age *[and]*;

(2) have passed the driver examination required in subchapter 2 of this chapter and*[, after June 30, 1970,]* a driver education and training course approved by the commissioner of motor vehicles and the commissioner of education;

(3) have:

(A) possessed a learner’s permit for not less than one year;

(B) submitted on a form provided by the department of motor vehicles which is approved by the commissioner, and certified by the operator’s licensed parent or guardian, licensed or certified driver education instructor or licensed person at least 25 years of age that there has been:

(i) at least 40 hours practice behind the wheel, at least 10 of which shall be nighttime driving; and that the operator was accompanied by their licensed parent or guardian, licensed or certified driver education instructor or licensed person at least 25 years of age, riding beside the operator; and

(4) have maintained a driving record without a learner’s permit suspension, revocation or recall for six consecutive months prior to licensure.

(b) An applicant for a junior operator's license shall not be given a license unless his or her parent, guardian or a person standing in loco parentis to him or her files a written consent with the commissioner *[a written consent thereto]*.

Sec. 3. 23 V.S.A. § 607a is amended to read:

§ 607a. *[PROVISIONAL LICENSE; RECALL]* RECALL OF LEARNER’S PERMIT OR JUNIOR OPERATOR’S LICENSE

(a) A *[license issued to an operator who is a minor or to a junior operator shall be a provisional license. Each such license shall be designated as a provisional]* learner’s permit or junior operator's license *[and]* shall contain an admonition that it is recallable and that the later procurement of *[a nonprovisional]* an operator’s license is conditional on the establishment of a record which is satisfactory to the commissioner and showing compliance with the motor vehicle laws of this and other states. The commissioner may recall any license issued to a minor whenever he or she is satisfied, from information *[given him]* provided by a credible person and upon investigation, that the operator is mentally or physically unfit or, because of his or her habits or record as to accidents or convictions, is unsafe to be trusted with the operation of motor vehicles. On recommendation of a diversion or reparative board, the commissioner may recall the learner’s permit or junior operator’s license of a person in a diversion or reparative program for up to 30 days. The commissioner shall also recall any learner’s permit or junior operator’s license for 90 days following a single speeding violation resulting in a three-point assessment or when a total of six points has been accumulated, or when an operator is convicted for a violation of section 678 of this title. When a *[provisional]* learner’s permit or junior operator’s license is so recalled, it shall be reinstated *[when the person has satisfactorily completed a driver training course or when the commissioner is satisfied that the operator may safely be trusted to operate a motor vehicle or]* upon expiration of a specific term, and, if required by the commissioner, when the person has passed a re-examination *[given by an inspector with the permission of]* approved by the commissioner.

(b) When a license is recalled under the provisions of this section the person whose license is so recalled shall have the same right of hearing before the commissioner as is provided in section 671(a) of this title.

(c) Except for a recall based solely upon the provisions of subsection (d) of this section, any recall of a license may extend past the operator’s 18th birthday. While the recall is still in effect, that operator shall be ineligible for any operator’s license.

(d) The commissioner shall recall a learner’s permit or junior operator’s license upon written request of the individual’s custodial parent or guardian.

(e) Any recall period under this section shall run concurrently with any suspension period imposed under chapter 13 of this title.

Sec. 4. 23 V.S.A. § 614(a) is amended to read:

(a) An operator's license shall entitle the holder *[thereof]* to operate a registered motor vehicle with the consent of the owner *[thereof]* whether employed *[so]* to do so or not. A junior operator's license shall entitle the holder *[thereof]* to operate a registered motor vehicle, with the consent of the owner *[thereof]*, but shall not entitle him or her to operate a motor vehicle in the course of his or her employment or for direct or indirect compensation *[or in the carrying of]* for one year following issuance of the license. A junior operator’s license shall not entitle the holder to carry passengers for hire. During the first three months of operation, the holder of a junior operator’s license is restricted to driving alone or with a licensed parent or guardian, licensed or certified driver education instructor or licensed person at least 25 years of age. During the following three months, a junior operator may additionally transport family members. No person operating with a junior operator’s license shall transport more passengers than there are safety belts unless he or she is operating a vehicle that has not been manufactured with a federally approved safety belt system.

Sec. 5. 23 V.S.A. § 615 is amended to read:

§ 615. UNLICENSED OPERATORS

(a) An unlicensed person 15 years of age or older, may operate a motor vehicle, if he or she has *[upon his person]* in possession, a valid learner's permit issued to him or her by the commissioner and if their licensed *[operator eighteen years of age or over]* parent or guardian, licensed or certified driver education instructor or licensed person at least 25 years of age rides beside him or her. Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit a person against whom a revocation or suspension of license is in force, or a person less than *[fifteen]* 15 years of age, or a person who has been refused a license by the commissioner, to operate a motor vehicle. *[A person fifteen years of age or over but less than sixteen years of age shall not operate a motor vehicle unless a licensed operator twenty-five years of age or over or school driver training instructor rides beside him. Provided, however, that any person attaining the age of fourteen years on or before August 1, 1963, may be issued a learner's permit in accordance with the provisions of section 617 of this title.]*

A licensed person who does not possess a valid motorcycle endorsement may operate a motorcycle, with no passengers, only during daylight hours and then only if he or she has upon his or her person a valid motorcycle learner's permit issued to him or her by the commissioner.

(b) The commissioner, in his or her discretion, may recall a learner's permit in the same circumstances as he or she may recall a provisional license.

Sec. 6. 23 V.S.A. § 617(a) is amended to read:

(a) Any person *[fifteen]* 15 years of age or over, who has no convictions under sections 601, 674, 676, 1091, 1094, 1128, 1133 or 1201 of this title, suspensions under section 1205 of this title, or civil traffic violations under section 1216 of this title in the previous two years, may apply to the commissioner of motor vehicles for a learner's permit in the form prescribed by the commissioner. After the applicant has successfully passed all parts of the driver license examination other than the driving test, the commissioner may issue to the applicant a learner's permit which entitles the applicant, subject to section 615 of this title, to operate a motor vehicle upon the public highways for a period of two years from the date of issuance. Any learner's permit may be renewed. This section shall not affect section 602 of this title.

Sec. 7. 23 V.S.A. § 631 is amended to read:

§ 631. REQUIREMENTS; *[REGULATIONS]* RULES

The commissioner may *[make regulations]* adopt rules pursuant to chapter 25 of Title 3 governing the examination of new applicants for operators' licenses or learner’s permits and may prescribe what shall be requisite to *[obtaining]* obtain or *[holding]* hold a license or learner’s permit, by either an old or a new applicant, as to driving experience, mental and physical qualifications, and any other matter or thing which, in his judgment, will contribute to the selection of safe and efficient operators.

Sec. 8. 23 V.S.A. § 678 is added to read:

§ 678. UNAUTHORIZED OPERATION

A person who may operate a motor vehicle by virtue of either a learner’s permit or junior operator’s license who is convicted of operating a motor vehicle while unaccompanied in violation of subsection 614(a) or 615(a) of this title shall be subject to a penalty of not more than $50.00 and his or her learner’s permit or junior operator’s license shall be recalled for a period of 90 days. No person may be issued traffic complaints alleging a violation of this section and a violation of section 676 of this title from the same incident. The provisions of this section may be enforced only if a law enforcement officer has detained the operator of a motor vehicle for a suspected violation of another traffic offense.

Sec. 9. ADMINISTRATIVE RULES

After enactment but prior to July 1, 2000, the commissioner shall commence the rulemaking process authorized by this act, provided that final proposed rules shall not be filed with the legislative committee on administrative rules prior to July 1, 2000.

Sec. 10. 16 V.S.A. § 1047a is added to read:

§ 1047a. DRIVER’S EDUCATION GRANTS

(a) The purpose of the driver’s education grant program is to provide increased availability and quality of driver’s education programs for Vermont students to prepare them for the responsibilities and requirements of safely operating a motor vehicle.

(b) The commissioner of motor vehicles and the commissioner of education shall cooperatively establish and implement a driver’s education grant program that improves the availability and quality of driver’s education programs. Eligible applicants shall include Vermont public secondary and vocational schools and supervisory unions on behalf of a school or schools. Grant awards shall be up to $12,500.00. Eligible activities shall include one or more of the following:

(1) proposals and activities which result in increased parental involvement;

(2) increased availability of driver’s education including reducing waiting lists;

(3) increased exposure to nighttime driving;

(4) increased exposure to diverse weather conditions;

(5) costs associated with the purchase and use of simulators;

(6) increased practice with the operation of standard transmissions;

(7) creative proposals designed to reduce alcohol abuse among enrolled students including peer counseling;

(8) training opportunities for educators; and

(9) purchase of materials and equipment designed to enhance curricula.

Sec. 11. APPROPRIATION

For fiscal year 2001, the sum of $250,000.00 is appropriated from the transportation fund to the department of motor vehicles for use by the commissioner of education in fulfilling the requirements of Sec. 10 of this act.

Sec. 12. DEADLINES FOR INITIATING AND IMPLEMENTING THE DRIVER’S EDUCATION GRANT PROGRAM

The commissioner of motor vehicles shall make the funding authorized in Sec. 11 of this act available to the commissioner of education to accomplish the initiation and implementation schedule for the driver’s education grant program set forth in this section:

(1) A first round of grants shall be implemented in the following manner:

(A) Grant applications and material regarding the grant program shall be sent by the commissioner of education to the schools referred to in 16 V.S.A. § 1047a by June 1, 2000.

(B) Grant applications shall be returned by applicants to the department of education by July 1, 2000.

(C) Up to $125,000.00 of grants shall be awarded by August 1, 2000.

(2) A second round of grants shall be implemented in the following manner:

(A) Grant applications and material regarding the grant program shall be sent by the commissioner of education to the schools referred to in 16 V.S.A. § 1047a by October 1, 2000.

(B) Grant applications shall be returned by applicants to the department of education by November 1, 2000.

(C) Grants using the remaining funds shall be awarded by December 1, 2000.

Sec. 13. REPORTS

(a) The commissioner of motor vehicles and the commissioner of education shall assess the historic commitment to driver’s education funding with recommendations to the general assembly by January 15, 2001, for enhancement of the state’s contribution to the program.

(b) The commissioner of motor vehicles and the commissioner of education shall design, implement and assess the curriculum for improvements to the driver’s education program and report to the general assembly by January 15, 2001.

Sec. 14. EFFECTIVE DATE

Except for this section and Sec. 9 which shall take effect from passage, this act shall take effect on July 1, 2000, and its provisions shall only apply to learner permits and licenses issued on or after that date, and not to learner permits and junior licenses that are in force on that date.

Approved: May 23, 2000