California Rating: Good

California is significantly advanced toward adopting all of Advocates’ recommended optimal laws, as reported in the 2019 Roadmap Report.

Highway Safety Laws Needed

  • GDL – Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
  • GDL – Stronger Nighttime Restriction
  • GDL – Stronger Passenger Restriction
  • GDL – Age 18 for Unrestricted License
  • Ignition Interlock for All Offenders
  • GDL Cell Phone Restriction (Without S)

Current Optimal Highway Safety Laws

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Front & Rear)
  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
  • Booster Seat Law
  • Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law
  • GDL – 6-Month Holding Period
  • GDL – 50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision
  • Child Endangerment Law
  • Open Container Law
  • All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction

*States are credited with having laws only if their laws meet Advocates’ optimal criteria

info2  Learn more and contact your California state assemblyperson or state senator.

Hot Now: Graduated Driver Licensing Laws

In 2017, 426 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers in California.

The current GDL law in  California includes the following components:

  • A three-stage licensing system beginning at age 15 years and 6 months for learner’s permit, age 16 years for the intermediate stage, and age 17 years for full licensure
  • A mandatory 6 month holding period for the learner’s permit stage
  • A minimum of 50 hours of supervised practice driving during the learner’s permit stage, at least 10 of which must be at night
  • A prohibition on unsupervised nighttime driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. during the intermediate stage (secondary enforcement)
  • A passenger restriction prohibiting more than one passenger younger than age 20 (with limited exceptions for immediate family) for the first year after licensure (secondary enforcement)
  • A prohibition on non-emergency use of hand-held cell phones for all drivers (primary enforcement); a prohibition on non-emergency use of hands-free cells phones for drivers younger than age 18 (secondary enforcement)
  • A prohibition on texting while driving for all drivers

These changes are needed to improve California’s GDL law and meet optimal GDL provisions:

  • Require age 16 for entry into the learner’s permit stage
  • Extend restrictions on teen drivers through age 17
  • Strengthen the nighttime and passenger restriction provisions
  • Add a prohibition on non-emergency use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages

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