It is a big moment when your child turns 16 and is able to get their driver’s license. But parents need to be reminded that a 16-year-old does not receive a full driver’s license in Missouri, instead, they receive what is referred to as an “Intermediate Driver’s License.” This is because Missouri, and many other states, has a graduated driver’s licensing law.
The first part of this blog summarizes the main provisions of the law, and the second part alerts parents to their responsibilities for enforcing the law. This is important information because greater compliance with the GDL law will help reduce the types of collisions that result in serious injury or fatalities.
What Is Missouri’s GDL Law?
Missouri’s GDL law requires all first-time drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 to complete a period of driving with a licensed driver, followed by a period of restricted driving before they are allowed to get a full driver’s license.
For drivers under the age of 16, a licensed driver must be in the passenger’s seat to instruct while the young driver is learning. A parent, grandparents, or driving instructor should be the one providing guidance at this stage. Teenagers can apply for an instruction permit at the age of 15, and these permits are valid for up to 12 months.
To receive an instruction permit, your teenager must pass vision, road sign recognition, and written tests at a Missouri State Highway Patrol driver examination station. Additionally, a qualified adult must be present to sign a permission statement when an instruction permit is being applied for.
At age 16, your teen can apply for an intermediate license, which grants the teen the ability to drive alone except during a late-night curfew, which runs from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyone in the vehicle must wear seat belts and not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the driver is expected to obey all traffic laws.
To receive an intermediate license, your child must have their instruction permit for at least 182 days, no alcohol-related convictions in the past 12 months, no traffic convictions in the last six months, and driven at least 40 hours while supervised with at least ten of those hours being nighttime driving. If your teen’s last round of tests is more than a year old, they will have to retake all of the tests.
By 18, teenagers can apply for a full driver’s license, allowing teens all the freedoms that other adults are allowed on the streets. The requirements for a full-fledged driver’s license include no alcohol-related or traffic convictions over the past 12 months, a valid intermediate license, and passed vision and road sign recognition tests. If your teen hasn’t already passed the written and driving tests, those will also be required.
Parents As Enforcers of the GDL Law
Because it is very difficult for police to identify the age of a particular driver, law enforcement officers are not in the best position to enforce Missouri’s GDL law. However, because the parent is in the best position to control their children’s driving, the GDL was designed to have the parent become the chief enforcer of the law. The problem is that most parents are not aware of the specific rules outlined in the law. This is especially true when it comes to curfews and passenger limits.
What Is Your Role in the GDL Law as a Parent?
John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health performed a study in 2006 that found that GDL laws reduced teen death rates by an average of 11 percent. Several states that have implemented GDL laws have backed up this data. In fact, after Illinois implemented a GDL law, they saw a 53 percent drop in teen deaths between 2007 and the first nine months of 2009.
At Horn Law, we are continually advocating for parents to enforce the GDL law with their own teens. This means following the rules for teenage drivers as laid out by the GDL law in your state. However, we actually recommend imposing a few additional rules for your teens to follow to ensure their safety behind the wheel.
Within the first six months of your teen getting their license, you should consider imposing special rules that coincide with the GDL law. This is because these first six months are the most dangerous for your teen. We also recommend not allowing passengers or nighttime driving for the first six months and prohibiting recreational driving, meaning you should talk to your teen about driving from point A to point B without going off course.
You can gradually start to introduce new driving privileges as your teenager earns your trust. Consider a teen driver agreement that both you and your teen sign before they start driving. You can use ours or create your own with your own rules and restrictions to keep your teen safe behind the wheel.
Learn more about teen driver safety with the other blogs in this series: