Proposed legislation seeks provisional licenses for anyone under 21

Some California lawmakers think the current laws applicable to young, inexperienced drivers are simply not strict enough. In fact, a recently proposed bill in California now seeks to place the same driving restrictions that currently apply to 16- and 17-year-olds on all drivers under the age of 21 -- meaning, if passed, many college-aged individuals would be required to have provisional licenses.

Proponents of the bill believe this is an important step towards educating young drivers while at the same time making the roads safer and reducing motor vehicle accidents on California roadways. Opponents, however feel that this proposed legislation would simply restrict the right to travel of young adults aged 18 to 21. Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether this bill will gain any traction.

Current law and the proposed changes

Under existing law, provisional licenses are typically given to drivers under the age of 18. Essentially, the law says that provisional license holders are prohibited from driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and transporting passengers under the age of 20, unless they have a parent, a certified driving instructor or a licensed driver over the age of 25 in the vehicle.

If the recently proposed legislation is passed -- otherwise known as Assembly Bill 63 -- the above-referenced restrictions would continue to apply until the driver turns 21. However, several exceptions to this rule would exist for drivers aged 18, 19 and 20, including situations in which:

  • The provisional license holder needs to drive for school and is carrying a copy of his or her class schedule as proof
  • The provisional license holder needs to drive for work and is carrying a copy of his or her work schedule as proof
  • The provisional license holder needs to transport an immediate family member and other transportation options are inadequate

While these exceptions do cover many situations in which younger motorists may need to drive, they would still be restricted from getting behind the wheel in many other circumstances.

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