Driving around South Florida can be stressful for anyone, given our tourist, seasonal, and elderly populations. But we also have new drivers who are just learning the ropes on our roads as well. Learning to drive while navigating our already burgeoning traffic issues can be difficult enough for permit drivers. And unfortunate accidents can be the result.
What happens if you are involved in an accident with a permit driver and who is liable for injuries and other damages?
What Florida Law Says About Learner’s Permit Drivers
Florida Statute 322.1615 sets out the parameters for drivers who are operating a vehicle under a learner’s permit. These include
- That they must have passed a written examination
- That they must have passed a vision and hearing examination
- That they must have completed the required traffic law and substance abuse course
- And that they have met all other requirements by the Department of Motor Vehicles
Furthermore, a permit driver must be accompanied by another driver who
- Holds a valid license to operate the vehicle being driven
- Is at least 21 years of age
- Must occupy the closest seat to the right of the permitted driver
A permit driver may only operate a vehicle during daylight hours for the first three months of permitted driving, after which they may operate a vehicle only until 10:00 p.m.
The Common Issues Surrounding Younger Drivers on the Road
When a young driver has held their permit for one year, they then become eligible to obtain an operator’s license. This means that a driver who obtained a learner’s permit at 15 can operate a vehicle legally with minimal restriction at the age of 16.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, young and inexperienced drivers are a safety problem on the roads, particularly among male drivers between 16 and 19, unsupervised teen drivers with teen passengers, and newly licensed teens. Risk factors for these younger drivers include
- Inexperience – Young drivers do not yet have the experience to recognize possible dangers and make critical decisions to avoid them.
- Night and weekend driving – Riskier behavior tends to happen at nights and on weekends. Teen driver fatalities significantly increase at these times.
- Failing to use seatbelts – Teens have the lowest seat belt use rates of all driver age groups.
- Distracted driving – Research out of the 2019 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that 39 percent of teen drivers admitted to texting and emailing while driving within the 30 days prior to taking the survey.
- Speeding – Young drivers are more likely to speed and allow less distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them.
- Alcohol use – Teen drivers have a higher risk of being involved in an accident after any alcohol use, even at levels below the legal limits for adults.
- Drug use – Drug impairment, whether prescription medications, illicit drugs, or marijuana use, leads to poorer judgment, decision-making, motor coordination, and reaction time.
Liability in an Accident
Age will factor into liability in the case of an accident with a permit driver.
For minor drivers under the age of 18, a parent or other legal guardian must sign any license application for a permit or operator’s license. This person will be responsible in any accident involving that driver.
When a guardian or parent has given permission to use a vehicle that is registered to them, that parent or guardian takes on the liability of any accident that happens while the minor driver is in control of the vehicle. If they allow that minor driver to drive unsupervised under a learner’s permit, they also assume any liability in the case of an accident.
While those over the age of 18 do not require a parent’s or guardian’s signature for a learner’s permit or license, if they are driving a vehicle under their parent’s permission, the parent may still be held liable for any accidents that result. Even if no voiced, specific permission has been given, if the driver lives in the same household as the vehicle owner, the court can rule implied consent if an accident takes place. A driver over the age of 18 driving their own vehicle, however, can be held liable in an accident.
The Responsibility of Parents of Young Drivers in Florida
None of us are ever prepared for a car accident, and most of us don’t think about it until we are involved in one. But it becomes forefront in most parents’ minds when their teen becomes a driver, with good reason. If your permitted or underage teen gets into an accident, or if you have been injured in an accident caused by a teen driver, you should get the guidance of an experienced Boca Raton car accident lawyer to understand your rights, options, and obligations.
At Ged Lawyers, LLP, we offer skilled guidance and representation in matters of car accidents and personal injury in Boca Raton and throughout South Florida. Call us at (561) 562-4170 or contact us online to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your case.