California legislation AB-63 is one Governor signature away from becoming the law of the land and being printed into California DMV handbooks. Simply put, AB-63 would require newly minted drivers under the age of 21 to hold a provisional license for the first 12 months of driving.
Right now, only new drivers 18 and under are required to have a provisional license. The two biggest restrictions are that for the first (12) months of driving, you can’t transport anyone under 20 and you can’t drive anywhere between 11 PM and 5 AM unless it’s school, work, health-related or you have a family member or someone older than 25 years old in the car with you. Intentions to reduce the number of traffic-related accidents tied to young drivers may be good, but extending the age restrictions for provisional license drivers until age 21 won’t mesh well with the lifestyle of young drivers.
It should be noted that as the provisional license program stands, the benefits and tangible effects it’s had on young drivers since it was enacted in 1997 are documented. The program is working. The exceptions to the restrictions imposed during the first 12 months should be a hint that young adults will often have lifestyles and lifestyle choices that clash with the rules, more exacerbated when one moves on from high school.
Underage drinking is illegal but it still happens. It also should be noted that provisional license laws aren’t enforced until a traffic violation occurs. Even though you can’t drink until you’re 21, underage party goers will still designate a driver who decides not to drink. Often that driver is under 21. If AB-63 goes into effect, designated drivers would be punished for transporting drunk passengers from late parties if they’re pulled over for speeding or other traffic violations.
Then there’s carpooling. The price of on-campus parking is often alleviated by splitting the cost of a parking permit or applying for a special carpool permit. It’s cost effective and incentivizes this eco-friendly practice. AB-63 would mean newly minted drivers who are in college couldn’t be the carpool driver for their friends and would either have to go it alone or join someone else’s carpool.
There are probably other cases where AB-63 would cause an undue burden on drivers older than 18 but under 21.
A similar bill passed the desk of Governor Brown a few years back and he vetoed it back then. There’s no reason he shouldn’t veto AB-63 now.