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Teen Driving Laws in California: What Every Teen Driver & Parent Should Know

Teen Driving Laws in California: What Every Teen Driver & Parent Should Know

Almost uniformly, teens look forward to getting a driver’s license. For them, it is a step toward greater freedom and independence. 

For their parents, it is a time of worry and concern.

This is a time when teens also explore alcohol and drug use.

When alcohol or drugs are mixed with driving, the result can be deadly. Therefore, California regulates teen driving.

 Here is what every teen driver and parent should know about teen driving laws in California.

California Teen Driving Permits and Licensing

Like many other states, California uses a Graduated Licensing Program to introduce teens to driving safely. This graduated approach allows a permitting process and training to begin before a teen driver may be licensed. To get a permit to drive a teen must be at least 15 ½ years old.  

A teen may apply for a permit to drive once they have completed an approved driver’s education program that teaches traffic laws, road safety, driver responsibilities, and avoiding accidents. The programs must have either 30 hours or 2 1/2 semesters of classroom instruction conducted by a professional. 

Alternatively, a teen may complete this training with an approved  internet training program. Once a teen gets a permit, he or she must have 50 hours of driving education behind the wheel of a car within 6 months of obtaining the permit. Once that is completed, a teen may take their driving test at age 16.

Restrictions on a Teen License in California

A teen’s driver’s license is restricted for the first year. The license is provisional. Teens are prohibited from driving from 11:00 P.M. to 5:00 A.M. This is when the risk of accidents, especially those involving drugs or alcohol, are highest. When a teen driver has a passenger who isn’t yet 20 years old, there are additional restrictions.

The teen driver must also be transporting a:

  • Certified driving instructor
  • Parent or guardian (with a valid California license), or
  • Licensed driver who is at least 25 years of age. 

Once a teen turns 18, the restrictions can be removed.  

Exceptions to Teen Driving Restrictions in California

There are several exceptions to these restrictions. In order to qualify for a restriction, a teen must be driving for an accepted reason and have written permission to do so. There are exceptions for:

  • Medical necessity: Requires a doctor’s note.
  • School: The note must be signed by the school principal or dean.
  • Employment: The teen must have a note from the employer.
  • Family member necessity: Note must be signed by parent.

Emancipated minors are treated somewhat differently. An emancipated teen must provide the DMV with emancipation court orders and must provide proof of insurance.

Penalties for Violating Teen Driving Restrictions in California

The DMV tracks a teen’s driving record and provisional license. Using its point system, the DMV assigns point values for accidents, traffic tickets, and arrests. Consequences for violations are as follows:

  • A traffic ticket and failure to appear in court results in loss of a teen’s driving privilege until they appear in court.
  • One  collision in which the teen is at fault, or a conviction of a traffic law violation within 12 months will result in a DMV warning letter.
  • If the teen has two collisions in which they are at fault or two traffic convictions within 12 months, results in a loss of a teen’s driving privilege for 30 days. In that case, the teen may only drive if accompanied by a licensed parent or other licensed adult over the age of 25.
  • Three such collisions or traffic law violations within 12 months results in a suspended license for 6 months and one year of probation.
  • Four or more such collisions or traffic law violations while on probation results in further suspension.
  • An alcohol or a controlled substance use conviction between the ages of 13 and 21 years results in a suspended driver’s license for 1 year or a delay in a teen’s eligibility to apply for a driver’s license.

Both parents and teens need to be aware of these consequences. It is best to understand the law before  a teen begins driving. Courts and the DMV are strict in applying consequences.

Teen Drivers and Cell Phones in California

Teens are glued to their cell phones.

In California, it is against the law for a teen to use a cell phone or any other electronic wireless device while driving.

That means that a teen may not answer a call or a text and may not initiate a call or text while driving unless there is an emergency.

Knowing your rights and responsibilities behind the wheel is important at every stage of your driving life. Setting a successful path helps. If your teen does get arrested driving under the influence, you need a criminal lawyer. Knowing the law always helps.

What Are the 100 Deadliest Days?

The 100 deadliest days are upon us. The 100 deadliest days refer to the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day when rates of car accidents for teen drivers go up. Over the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during those three months. Two-thirds of the people injured or killed in accidents involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel.

These accidents increase during summer months because teens are out of school and are out on the road more. An average of about 700 people a year die in accidents involving a teen driver.

Contributing to these high rates of accidents are reckless behaviors that teens tend toward at higher rates. Reckless behaviors such as drinking and driving, speeding, and driving while distracted (texting) all contribute to the higher rates of accidents for teens drivers in the summer.

What Causes Teens to Get into Accidents?

Speeding. Speeding increases the severity of the crash as well as the frequency. 30% of teen drivers admit to speeding on residential streets and almost 40 percent admit to speeding on highways in the past thirty days. 

Drinking and driving. Drinking is illegal for teens in all 50 states. Unfortunately, that is not enough to deter teens from drinking and driving. One in sixteen drivers involved in fatal accidents tested positive for alcohol.

Driving while distracted. In the age of smartphones and social media, the contributing factor of distracted driving is on the rise. More than half of teen drivers reported to reading a text or email while driving. 40 percent of teen drivers even reported sending a text or an email.

After an accident, it is difficult for law enforcement to determine if a teen was texting while driving. If law enforcement decides to investigate the circumstances that led to an accident, they have legal means to obtain phone records and determine if a driver is liable for being on the phone or texting. Witnesses might also report seeing the driver using their phone.

If law enforcement decides to investigate the circumstances that led to an accident, they have legal means to obtain phone records and determine if a driver was on the phone or texting. Witnesses might also report seeing the driver using their phone.

What Can a Worried Parent Do?

Parents must talk to teens about all the factors mentioned above that lead to accidents. Even if you think your teen doesn’t drink there is always a first time. Parents can set a good example. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t pick up your phone while driving. Drive at the speed limit. Be a model for safe, responsible driving.

Make sure your teen gets lots of hours driving with you in the car so that they get more comfortable and you can see where their weaknesses may be. You can gradually ease up on the supervision as you see your teen gaining more confidence and skill behind the wheel. 

Summer should be fun and enjoyable for teens. The freedom that comes with gaining the right to drive also comes with serious responsibilities. As a parent, you can be a model of good driving behavior and have tough discussions with your teen driver that need to be had no matter how uncomfortable.

Talk to your teen about the consequences if they are caught drinking and driving or driving while texting. You can even write up a contract that you both discuss and sign. Make this a safe and fun summer for everyone. If you have been injured, then check out our guide on how to find a good lawyer.

Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits

Millions of Americans suffer from heartburn, ulcers, and acid reflux. Medications like Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium are commonly prescribed and taken to prevent these painful health conditions. Unfortunately, these medications, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), may do more harm than good. A recent study out of San Diego reveals that PPIs are linked to higher rates of kidney disease.

Despite this information, pharmaceutical companies have continued to market and sell their best-selling medications. As a result, 10 percent of American adults may be at risk of developing an avoidable and potentially life-threatening health condition.

Pharmaceutical Companies Aggressively Market Dangerous Drugs

For decades, people suffering from heartburn have turned to proton pump inhibitors for help. PPIs gained a lot of popularity, in part, due to an aggressive marketing campaign. It’s hard to turn on your TV or pass a billboard without seeing Larry the Cable guy gushing about the benefits of Prilosec.

Nexium, another popular PPI, has been marketed as the “purple pill.” Medications pushed by a goofy comic or referred to in such a lighthearted manner couldn’t possibly be dangerous, right? Wrong.

Decades of studies have revealed that long-term PPI use is associated with a host of health issues. Patients taking a PPI have reported a variety of adverse health events, including:

  • Kidney injuries
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Liver damage
  • Infection
  • Dementia, and
  • Cancer.

These studies haven’t stopped AstraZeneca and other pharmaceutical companies from pouring millions of dollars into advertising campaigns. However, these campaigns failed to mention these possible health risks.

Heartburn Patients Are Suing Pharmaceutical Companies

Pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to design, create, and sell safe drugs. If a company knows that a medication may be dangerous, it has an obligation to warn consumers. When a company fails to warn patients and doctors about known health risks, it can be liable for injuries and harm.

Thousands of heartburn patients are suing pharmaceutical companies over PPI-related injuries. The proton pump inhibitor lawsuits accuse the companies of:

  • Manufacturing and marketing a dangerous drug, and
  • Failing to warn patients about health risks associated with the use of PPIs.

Plaintiffs claim that they could have opted for a different treatment and avoided injury if they’d known the risks associated with taking a PPI.

While some PPI injury lawsuits have been settled, many are still pending in state and federal courts across the country.

What Damages Can Injured Proton Pump Inhibitor Patients Recover?

In California, plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits are entitled to ask for economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are awarded to offset the financial costs of an unexpected injury. An award of economic damages should help to put a victim back in the financial position they were in before they were injured. Examples of economic damages include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Disability, and
  • Reduced earning capacity.

Non-economic damages are awarded to compensate for injuries that are difficult to value in terms of dollars and cents. These awards are very subjective and often vary significantly from one case to another. Examples of non-economic damages include:

In some cases, a court may approve an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are appropriate when a defendant acts fraudulently or intends to cause harm. Juries may be inclined to award punitive damages in PPI injury cases if they believe that pharmaceutical companies intentionally hid health risks from patients.

Do not hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer if you believe that you’ve developed health issues while taking a PPI. You may have the right to file a lawsuit and recover compensation for your injuries.