by Tony Briscoe
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
Starting March 30, Michigan drivers with a level 2 intermediate license will have more restrictions regarding passengers they have and reforms on legal driving times.
As a result of legislation (House Bill 4493) passed in December, intermediate level drivers will not be allowed to drive with more than one unrelated passenger under 21 without a parent or guardian, or unless they are traveling to or from school.
In addition, intermediate level drivers will not be allowed to operate a vehicle from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., a change from the 12 a.m. driving curfew enacted in 1996 by the graduate level license program.
Sgt. Larry Sparkes of the East Lansing Police Department said this law could improve public safety in East Lansing.
“You get a group of young kids together and sometimes their attention isn’t always on the road,” said Sparks. “But I think they’re just trying to make sure that everyone gets from point A to point B in a safe manner.”
According to the Census, in 2009 Ingham County had the seventh highest population (26,691) of Michigan residents 15 to 19, the age bracket where the law could apply.
Violators of the new law could be charged with a civil infraction, for two points on their license said Frank Woodham, spokesman for the Secretary of State. A 12-month extension of level 2 license restrictions could be also applied on top of a driver re-examination test.
“The driver would be called in and sent a letter telling them to come in and talk to the driver analyst and they’d go over the violation and why it occurred and the person’s previous driving history and if the analyst thought it was warranted they’d place additional restriction on the person’s license,” said Woodham.
Sparkes said officers will not pull drivers over based on the appearance of their age, but they will check licenses status after routine traffic stops.
“I would say our philosophy would be we’re not going to stand out there and just look and say, ‘Hey there’s a lot of young people in that car’ we’re not going to do that,” said Sparkes. “If we have a problem and we have a reason to be there, whether it’s a traffic stop or some other kind of issue where we come in contact with a vehicle, then we’ll make that determination at that time.”