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I represent many Defendants, including young people, when they get in trouble partly because they don’t really know the laws associated with driver’s licenses.

Here are some general rules regarding licensing in the State of Maryland:

You are eligible for a learner’s permit at 15 years, 9 months. If you apply for a learners permit and you are between 15 and 9 months and 16 years old, you must submit a copy of your school attendance record with your license application that shows less than 10 unexcused absences. What can a driver do with a learners permit? Short Answer: You can’t drive alone! Who can you drive with? A 21 year old who’s had their own license for 3 years and who isn’t sitting in the back seat. Lastly, holders of learners permits can take the driving test once they complete a driver education program and have had the Learners Permit for 6 months or its been 6 months from the last time that applicant was convicted of a moving violation.

An applicant can get a Provisional license at the minimum age of 16 years, 3 months, and a regular old license at 17 years, 9 months. A holder of a provisional license cannot drive unsupervised between midnight and 5am, with some exceptions for school and work. Also, provisional drivers have an added penalty for ANYONE in the car being caught without a seat belt on, so be aware. These restrictions end for a provisional driver when they reach age 18.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are 70 years old, to obtain a driver’s license, you have to prove two things to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA):

1. that the applicant previously operated a motor vehicle in a satisfactory way, and

2. a doctor’s note stating that the applicant is both physically and mentally able to drive a car.

There you have a basic crash course on the convoluted restrictions associated with driver’s licenses. Lastly, I would like to point out that the State has just recently passed a law prohibiting the dreaded act of texting while driving. This issue has garnered much attention in the last year or so and different legislative bodies have dealt with it differently. To show how serious Great Britain is on this issue, they released a Public Service Announcement showing the risks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIqO2IBR8aY. I am serious, do not click through if you are sensitive to graphic material because this clip shows a particularly brutal car crash.

Maryland’s law prohibits sending a text message with a handheld device used to send an electronic messages via a short message service, wireless telephone service or electronic communication network while your car is in the travel portion of a roadway (moving or not). The law is new (effective October 1, 09) and hasn’t been tested in the appellate courts yet, but I believe its broad enough to cover texts, emails, twitter, and any other electronic post you can think of. Exceptions: texting 911 in an emergency and using a GPS. Penalty: $500 fine and conviction of misdemeanor.