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Fast Facts from the DPS
Graduated Driver License Program
The Graduated Driver License
Program, created by Senate Bill 577 in 2001, goes into effect January
1, 2002. The program creates two phases of driving requirements for minors
under age 18.
Any individual who receives either their instruction permit or
provisional license before January 1, 2002 will not be affected by the
new graduated system. They are grandfathered out of all phases
of the new graduated system.
Phase One Requirements
under age 18 must hold an instruction permit or hardship license for
a minimum of six months before a provisional
license is issued. Once the
applicant has completed this phase and meets all other current licensing
requirements, they "graduate"
to phase two-a provisional license with restrictions.
(See "Phase Two Requirements" below for details.)
- The minimum age
for the licensed operator required to accompany an instruction permit
holder in the front passenger seat increases from 18 to 21.
- Street enforcement
of phase one will begin in a limited fashion January 1, but only for
permits issued after January 1.
- Initially, the
permit will be stamped to better assist patrol officers in determining
if the new 21-or-over provision for licensees accompanying permit holders
applies. This will eventually
be replaced by language on the permit itself.
If the permit does not specify the 21-or-over provision, the
old standard of 18-or-over will still apply and enforcement action may
not be applicable.
Phase Two Requirements
Once the applicant has held a driving permit for six months, completes
an approved driver education course and reaches their 16th birthday, they
are eligible to progress to phase two-a provisional license. In phase two, driving privileges of provisional
licensees are restricted for the first six months of issuance. During that six-month period, the applicant
- have more than one passenger
under 21 years of age who is not a family member, or
- operate a vehicle after midnight
and before 5 a.m., unless driving is necessary for employment, school
or school-related activities or a medical emergency.
that the passenger and time limitations in phase two do not apply if the
provisional license holder is accompanied by a licensed operator age 21
or older in the front seat.
Phase Two Enforcement
- Since applicants must have
an instruction permit for six months under the new law, patrol enforcement
of phase two restrictions will not begin until July
- Officers must look on the back
of the license to determine if enforcement is appropriate. The language
under the restriction code will state "TRC 545.424 applies until MMDDYY." If that date has passed or there is no entry,
enforcement action is not necessary.
- A law officer cannot use this
law as probable cause for a traffic stop.
legal driving age in Texas remains 16. (An
applicant may still apply for an instruction permit at 15.)
- 46 states and the District
of Columbia have some form of a graduated driver license system.