Driver's Licenses & Traffic Tickets for Drivers Under 21 Years Old.
The state of Georgia allows its citizens to drive with a limited permit at the age of 15 and begin a graduated license program to obtain a full license by the age of 18. Here are the 3 phases of that program according to Georgia Department of Driver Services:
Step 1 – Learner's Permit (Class CP): a Georgia Learner’s Permit is granted to applicants that are at least 15 years old and have successfully passed a knowledge test consisting of road rules and road signs. While operating a motor vehicle, drivers that possess a Learner’s Permit must be accompanied by an individual that is at least 21 years old. This individual must possess a valid Class C driver’s license, sit next to the driver in the vehicle, and be able to take control of the vehicle if necessary.
Step 2 – Intermediate Provisional License (Class D): a Class D Georgia driver’s license is granted to applicants either 16 or 17 years old. The applicant must have held a Georgia Learner’s Permit for 12 months and one day. They also must have not committed any major traffic violations, and have successfully passed a road skills test. A Class D Georgia driver’s license has certain conditions, which are outlined in Question #5.
Step 3 – Full License (Class C): a Class C Georgia driver’s license is granted to drivers 18 years old or older that have had no major traffic convictions in the last 12 months.
So what happens when someone under 21 gets a ticket? Many typical moving violations generate 3 points on that person's license and a conviction will not suspend the license for someone under 21. These offenses, however, can cause car insurance rates to increase significantly. Here are the offenses that cause mandatory suspensions for drivers under 21. Many of these also suspend licenses for those 21 and older, but drivers under 21 cannot obtain a limited permit where someone 21 and older is able to do so.
• Hit and run or Leaving the scene of an accident, O.C.G.A. §40-6-270
• Racing on highways or streets, O.C.G.A. §40-6-186
• Using a motor vehicle in fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, O.C.G.A. §40-6-395
• Reckless driving, O.C.G.A. §40-6-390
• Any offense for which four or more points are assessable under O.C.G.A. §40-5-57(c), which includes; Improper passing on a hill or a curve, O.C.G.A. §40-6-45(a)(1)Unlawful passing of a school bus, O.C.G.A. §40-6-163 Exceeding the speed limit by 24 mph or more, O.C.G.A. §40-6-181 Aggressive driving, O.C.G.A. §40-6-397
• Driving Under the Influence, O.C.G.A. §40-6-391
The most common offense that leads to license suspensions for young drivers is speeding 24 mph or more over the speed limit. It is important to note, however, that if the driver is 18-20 years old and the speed is 24-33 mph over the limit, the sentencing Judge can sign off on a form to allow the driver to obtain a limited driving permit from DDS during the 6 month suspension period.
The rest of these offenses, except for DUI, cause a 6 month suspension with NO limited permit. Also, a plea of Nolo Contendere will NOT avoid a license suspension. Many DUI convictions for drivers under 21 cause a 12 month suspension. And to get a license reinstated after one of these convictions, a DDS-approved Defensive Driving course and a $210 reinstatement fee are required, plus a Risk Reduction DUI School for DUI convictions.
Finally, the rules are even more strict for drivers under 18. The accumulation of 4 or more points in any 12 month period by a person under the age of 18 will lead to a 6 month license suspension. Offenses like Running a Stop Sign or Following Too Closely carry 3 points each if convicted. Two of those in any 1 year period will lead to a 6 month suspension.
If you're under 21 and get a traffic ticket or are arrested for a driving related offense, do NOT "just pay the ticket." Consult an attorney first. Feel free to reach out to Kyle Jarzmik.