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ACT NO. 140

(H.97)

Graduated Driver License Program

This act:

(1) Provides that any person who has previously held a junior operator’s license in Vermont prior to application for an operator’s license shall have held the junior operator’s license for a minimum of six months or until age 18 and maintained a record without suspensions or revocations for the six months preceding issuance of an operator’s license.

(2) Provides that an unlicensed person 15 years of age or older, may operate a vehicle if he or she has a learner’s permit and if a licensed parent or guardian, licensed or certified driver education instructor or licensed person at least 25 years of age rides beside him or her.

(3) Provides that a junior operator’s license may be issued only to persons who:

(A) are 16 and 17; and

(B) have possessed a learner’s permit for not less than one year; and

(C) submit a certified statement by the applicant’s licensed parent or guardian, licensed or certified driver education instructor or licensed person at least 25 years of age that the applicant has at least 40 hours practice behind the wheel, at least 10 of which shall be nighttime driving and that the applicant was accompanied by one of these people riding beside him or her; and

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

(4) Provides that on recommendation of a diversion or reparative board, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles may recall for up to 30 days the learner’s permit or junior operator’s license of a person in a diversion or reparative program.

(5) Authorizes the commissioner of motor vehicles to 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 have been accumulated or when an operator is convicted of unauthorized operation.

(6) Provides that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles recall a learner’s permit or junior operator’s license upon written request of the individual’s custodial parent or guardian.

(7) Provides that a junior operator’s license shall not entitle the holder to operate a vehicle in the course of his or her employment or for direct or indirect compensation for one year following issuance of the license or 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.

(8) Imposes upon a person operating with a learner’s permit or junior operator’s license who is not accompanied with an authorized person, a fine of not more than $50.00 and a permit or license recall of 90 days.

(9) Authorizes the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to adopt rules to implement the act.

(10) Appropriates $250,000 to fund a driver’s education grant program which will provide increased availability and quality of driver’s education programs for Vermont students at public secondary and vocational schools and supervisory unions. Grant awards shall be up to $12,500. For the first round of grants, applications must be sent by the Commissioner of Education to the schools by June 1, 2000 and returned to the Department of Education by July 1, 2000. Up to $125,000 of grants shall be awarded by August 1, 2000. For the second round, applications must be sent by October 1, 2000 and returned by November 1, 2000. Remaining funds must be awarded by December 1, 2000.

(11) Directs the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and the Commissioner of Education to 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.

(12) Directs the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and the Commissioner of Education to design, implement and assess the curriculum for improvements to the driver’s education program and report to the General Assembly by January 15, 2001.

Effective Date: Authority for adopting administrative rules takes effect from passage, May 24, 2000, and the remainder of the act takes effect on July 1, 2000. However, the act applies to learner permits and junior operator’s licenses issued on or after July 1, 2000.