Driving Laws Every Young Driver Must Know

Drinking, Driving, and Other Laws for Young Motorists: Lesson 2

Other Laws Young Drivers Should Know

  • Reckless driving is driving with willful disregard of the safety or property of others.
    • Penalties? Maybe up to six months jail, maybe loss of license up to six months, maybe a stiff fine.
  • Hit and run: failure to stop after an accident with injury or property damage
    • You MUST stop to exchange info – and get help if someone is hurt or dies.
    • Hit / run can be a misdemeanor or a felony (more on that in another lesson)
    • Penalties can be as little as 30 days in jail and as much as six years in prison if someone dies – and anything in between, depending on circumstances.
  • There will also be fines, court costs, and paying for medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage …

 

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  • Driving without a license
    • Up to 30 days in jail!
    • What happens to your job? Your car payment?
  • Driving with a license that had been suspended
    • Penalties get tougher as you get more of these
    • First offense: you could spend up to six months jail, be fined $500
    • Second offense: you could be in jail for up to a year and be fined $2500
    • Third or later offense: you could spend up to a year in jail, pay $2500 in fines, and PERMANENTLY LOSE YOUR DRIVER LICENSE if labeled a “habitual offender”
  • Cell phones and driving
    • Text messaging is banned for all drivers. Texting and driving kills people.
    • Driving while talking on the phone is against the law for people with learner’s permits and intermediate licenses.
    • Fines are low – $50 – but the danger is incredibly high.
    • This is a ‘primary law’, meaning that if a police officer sees you with a cell phone, that can be the reason for the stop.
      • If they find other illegal things in plain view, or illegal things going on, in the car during the stop, they can also act on those things even if they could not have known – except for seeing you texting.
  • Seat belts
    • You and your passengers must wear them. This also is a primary law.
    • Again, fines are low – $50 – but the danger is incredibly high.
  • Leaving a child under seven alone in a car
    • You can get up to six months in jail and $200 fine the first time as long as the child is okay when found, but …
    • … If the child was in some kind of danger, or was hurt while left alone in the car, you might be looking at felony charges with prison time.
      • Never, ever leave a child in a car during warm weather. Cars heat up fast. Kids die.
  • Tennessee has no law specifically banning “road rage,” BUT
    • The way you drive can result in other charges, and the penalties for those, like reckless driving or assault with a deadly weapon – the “weapon” is the car!
  • Speeding
    • Driving faster than the posted speed limit is against the law. Period.
    • Tennessee has what is known as an “absolute” speed limit law.
    • There is no trick to how this works: If the sign says 40 mph and you drive 41 mph or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit.
    • In Tennessee you can get a ticket for driving at a speed that isn’t safe, even if you are not speeding — for example, driving exactly at the speed limit posted on the sign but traffic is slower because of heavy traffic, or going the speed limit in a dense fog (when you should be going slower), or in a bad rain or snow storm.
  • Watch out! Speed limits commonly are slower on highways where communities are settled near the highway. Watch the signs! Or get a ticket!
  • You will get “points” against your license for speeding (and other traffic issues). Enough points will mean you lose your license for a while.
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