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What You Should Know About Wisconsin's Graduated Driver Licensing Law

Posted on in Car Accidents

gdl-lawBy Attorney Jason Luczak

In the year 2000, the State of Wisconsin enacted the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Law in an effort to reduce the number ofaccidents and deaths among young drivers. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), "Only 6% of all Wisconsin-licensed drivers are ages 16-19, but drivers in this age group account for 16% of all drivers involved in crashes." With that in mind, the GDL imposes strict restrictions on young drivers which lessen as they gain more experience behind the wheel.

According to WisDOT the restrictions imposed on a Wisconsin probationary license holder younger than 18 years of age (for the first nine months of licensure) under the GDL are as follows:

From 5 a.m. to midnight, a probationary driver can drive alone and go anywhere.

Any number of immediate family members can ride along as well as the following people:

    • One person who holds a valid, regular license with at least two years of licensed driving experience and who is:
      • A qualified instructor
      • A spouse 19 or older
      • A person 21 or older
      • One other person

From midnight to 5 a.m., a probationary driver can drive alone only if driving between home, school and/or work.

The same people listed above can also ride along. If driving anywhere else, one of the following people must be seated in the front passenger seat:

    • A parent or legal guardian
    • One person with a valid, regular license with two years of licensed driving experience and who is:
      • A qualified instructor
      • A spouse 19 or older
      • A person 21 or older

In addition, any number of the driver's immediate family members and one other person may ride along.

Restrictions will be extended six months if:

    • The probationary driver is convicted of a moving traffic violation
    • The probationary driver violate any of the restrictions
    • The probationary driver's license is suspended or revoked for any reason

While a teenage driver might not be a fan of the GDL law, it appears to be keeping inexperienced drivers safe. Based WisDOT statistics from the first three years (2001-2003) of the program, the number of crashes involving 16 year old drivers has decreased significantly when compared to the three years prior to the program (1997-99). The statistics showed that these drivers were 15% less likely to be any type of traffic accident, 18% less likely to be in a fatal accident and 20% less likely to be in a non-fatal injury accident. While there is still work to be done, and no driver, teenage or otherwise, is completely safe from a traffic accident, most people agree that the GDL is a step in the right direction.

Tagged in: GDL Teenage Drivers
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