Advice for New Drivers

By: Richard P. James

Two weeks ago my 16 year old son passed his road test and now enjoys what he calls “true freedom.”  Here is a summary of the conversation I had with him before his first “solo flight.”

DO NOT SPEED!  New drivers in New York State are on probation for six months. If you are convicted of speeding during the probationary period, your license will be suspended for six months.  When you get your license back, the six month probationary period starts all over again. If you are convicted of speeding during the second probationary period your license will be revoked (i.e., your driving privileges will no longer exist). In order to get your license back after a revocation, you need to wait out the revocation period and then repeat the entire licensing process, which means you will have to take the written and driving tests over again.

Once the probationary period is over, a speeding conviction is still serious.  It will cause your insurance to go up and may lead to the loss of your driving privileges. In New York State, eleven (11) points on your license during any eighteen (18) month period results in the suspension (and possible revocation) of your license.  Speeding tickets carry point violations ranging from a minimum of 3 points (1 to 10 mph over the posted limit) to 11 points (more than 40 mph over the posted limit).  Any three speeding convictions within an eighteen month period will result in a six month revocation of your license.

NEVER TEXT AND DRIVE!  According to a recent study, texting has replaced drinking and driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths among teenage drivers.  Overall, texting accounts for over 3,000 deaths and 330,000 vehicular accidents each year according to a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study.

Unbelievably, the National Highway Safety Administration (“NHSA”)  has concluded that texting is even more dangerous than drinking and driving because reading (or sending) the average text takes the driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds which, at 55 miles per hour, is equivalent to driving 100 yards–the entire length of a football field—while blindfolded.

In addition to the dangers of texting behind the wheel, a texting conviction in New York dramatically affects your driving privileges. A probationary driver convicted of texting will have his license suspended for 60 days.  A texting conviction is a 5 point violation for the non-probationary driver.

DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!  Penalties for drinking and driving in New York by people under 21 years of age reflect our State’s zero tolerance policy.  Any alcohol-related conviction of a minor (for the operation of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as low as .02—or one beer) results in a one year license revocation.

After you turn 21, a conviction for aggravated driving while intoxicated (.18 BAC or higher) results in a one year revocation.  A six month revocation results from driving while intoxicated (.08 BAC or higher), and a conviction for driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI) carries a ninety (90) day suspension.  An adult convicted of any two drinking and driving offenses within a ten year period is subject to a one year license revocation.

To all our sons and daughters–enjoy your “freedom”– but please be safe.

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