About 75 teens took the next step in their evolution toward adulthood when they received their Virginia operators licenses Thursday in the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Building.
State law mandates that every driver under the age of 18 appear before a Juvenile Court Judge, with a parent or legal guardian, in order to receive their license to drive. The judge opens the ceremony with an overview of traffic laws and the responsibility that comes with becoming a new driver. A Fairfax County police officer then explains specific traffic laws which are most commonly violated by teenage drivers. A music video depicting a fatal crash involving a teenage drunk driver concludes the ceremony.
There are two new legislative changes effective July 1, 2008, specifically affecting teenage drivers. Before a new driver can receive their license, they must complete 45 hours of actual behind the wheel driving with their parents; fifteen of those hours must be completed after sunset. The penalty for any person under the age of 21 found guilty of driving while intoxicated is punishable by loss of license for 12 months and a mandatory minimum fine of $500.00 or 50 hours of community service.