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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2005

Teen drivers have new hurdle to clear

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Those under 18 will need to go through an extra step before getting a full driver's license under a bill signed yesterday by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, filling in for Gov. Linda Lingle, who is off island.

The new provisional driver's license comes between acquiring an instructional permit and a standard driver's license. The law is designed to reduce traffic fatalities and accidents involving teens. It takes effect Jan. 9 and will run for five years to allow lawmakers time to study its effectiveness.

Other measures Aiona signed yesterday require motorists to stop — instead of just slowing down or yielding — when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk on the vehicle's side of the street, and increase penalties for those who violate laws relating to child-passenger restraint, car alarms and lights.

To receive a provisional license, a teen must hold a permit for at least six months and complete a certified driver's license education course and 50 hours of supervised practice driving. The teen then can obtain a full license at age 17 if he or she has held a provisional license for at least six months and has no action pending that might result in a license suspension or revocation.

With a provisional license, a teen is limited to driving only one passenger who is under 18, although an exemption is granted to household members. The teen is prohibited from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, or traveling to and from work or a school-related activity.

Bryson Mitsuda, 17, likely won't have to deal with the new graduated license since he now has an instructional permit and expects to get a regular license by the end of the year "after I've had enough practice."

But the 'Aiea High School junior, a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Youth In Action group, said he believes the provisional license is a good idea.

"It makes it better for people to be better drivers," Mitsuda said. "It takes practice."

Ashleigh Lucio, also a Youth In Action member, agreed. "I know people who race and speed," said Lucio, a 16-year-old who just graduated from Moanalua High School. The additional time would allow teens to get better educated before graduating to a full license, said Lucio, who will be attending UCLA in the fall and does not have a driver's license.

Another new law requires a motorist to stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk when the pedestrian is "upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger."

The law takes effect immediately.

The third law signed by Aiona sets a minimum penalty for repeat offenders of child-restraint laws at $100 for a second offense in three years and $200 for a third offense during the same period. The old law set only maximum penalties — $200 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense, without regard to when the previous violations occurred.

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com or at 525-8070.