Driving for the first year: the consequences of breaking the law

Jenna Helfant

Staff Writer

Like most teenagers, I could hardly contain myself as my sixteenth birthday approached. 16 is the year that one of my most monumental dreams could come true: this year I was eligible to get my license. As soon as that laminated piece of freedom came in the mail, I immediately rushed to my beat up station wagon (that for the record is older than I am), put the key in the ignition, and drove. For the first time I was able to escape everything and be out on my own.

For anyone that has their license, it is a widely known rule that driving anyone under the age of 25 within the first year of licensure is illegal. Driving siblings with a note from a parent or guardian is acceptable, but aside from that there are no exceptions. We all know the severity of this law but sadly, many choose to ignore it and some suffer the consequences.

The most common transgression that I have witnessed is teenagers driving their friends within the first year of having their license. They regard the rule more as a guideline and less as an actual law. I have many friends that have been caught ignoring this law and their punishments range from fines to license suspensions. Either way, I don’t know anyone who has come across a police officer that let them off the hook.

What I’m sure many of us don’t realize is the extent of the damage that could occur from this seemingly mild violation. For example, let’s say you are driving a friend within your first year of licensure. Suddenly, an unexpected car rams into your passenger side. You are fine, with only minor injuries, but your friend is unconscious. Eventually you learn that they have suffered so much brain damage that they are kept alive by life support.

This is a very dramatized incident but in this scenario, your parents would be penalized because of your irresponsibility. Because you have not had your license for over a year, legally your insurance company does not insure you. Without the financial assistance of insurance, your mistake could put your parents in overwhelming debt. This is aside from the guilt that you will feel not only in regards to your parents, but also to your friend.

While I know in the moment it doesn’t seem that serious, breaking the laws set for your first year of driving is a big deal. So the next time you get in a car ready to break some rules, think about the dramatic penalties and the potential consequences you might face.

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