JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Big changes are in store for you if you're under 21 and drive, especially if you're under 18.
That is because July 31st is when new laws go into effect that may completely change how teens drive. On paper, the laws appear quite complicated, so Region 8 News spent the day with authorities and have the easy-to-understand breakdown, right here.
For drivers under 18:
- No using cell phones to talk or any other activity, even with hands-free devices.
- Only one minor may be in the vehicle with you (multiple are allowed if they are siblings or live with you in the same house).*
- Driving between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. is prohibited, unless driving to or from a school, work or church related activity.*
- *Those with a star do not apply if a licensed driver age 21 or older is riding in the front passenger seat.
For drivers age 18-21:
- Talking on a cell phone is ONLY allowed if a hands-free device is in use.
- No limit on minors in the vehicle.
- No driving curfew in effect.
For drivers over 21:
- Using a cell phone to talk is unrestricted.
With all of the restrictions listed above come one exception: emergencies. The language in the law defines an emergency as any of these:
- Has reason to fear for his or her life, safety or property.
- Reasonably believes that a criminal act may be committed, regardless of against who.
- Is reporting a fire, traffic accident, serious road hazard, medical emergency, hazardous materials emergency, another driver who is recklessly driving or another driver who appears under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The acts setting these new restrictions say the first offense will result in a warning, with a possible fine after that.
Arkansas State Police Lt. Robert Speer says the laws apply to all in the age range who live in Arkansas. He says that his years on the job have proven to him that distractions can lead to tragic results and removing distractions will almost certainly help.