Utah Graduated Drivers License
In order to keep young drivers safe as they are making their first steps on the road, Utah has developed a graduated drivers license program that was designed to slowly submerge teens into the world of driving. Driving is a dangerous activity, especially so for youngsters, and that is why additional safety precautions must be taken. The graduated drivers license system in Utah utilizes mandatory drivers education classes and a number of permit and license restrictions, all working together to ensure that new drivers get through their first years of driving as safely as possible. Failure to meet all Utah graduated drivers license requirements may see you lose your drivers license.
The graduated drivers license program was developed as a safety precaution for teenage drivers. Statistics show that us traffic accidents is a number one cause of death for people between 15 and 20 years of age. It's not a disease or a a cataclysmic event that kills the most teenagers every year, it is the activity most of us don't even take seriously - driving. There are a number of factors that contribute to such high crash rates among teen drivers and lack of driving experience probably holds the first place. When a teenager gets his first Utah drivers license and gets behind the wheel, he's got under a hundred hours of driving experience at best and you cannot become a safe and confident driver within such a short period of time. Driving is a complex activity that requires you to constantly be aware of your surroundings and to be prepared to take actions when traffic conditions change. The only way for you to learn the skill of driving is to spend countless hours behind the wheel, observing the traffic and other drivers.
At this point, you may be asking yourself why does the Utah graduated license program apply only to teenage drivers if lack of driving experience is the issue? Older drivers who just got their license have just as much driving experience as any teenager, so why treat them differently? This is a very good question and ideally, the system should make everyone go through the same steps and stages of the application procedure, which would help to make the roads safer. However, the Utah Department of Public Safety takes into account the fact that older drivers usually take precautions that compensate for their lack of driving experience, while teen drivers tend to overestimate their driving ability. Teen drivers are more likely to speed, take risks on the road or engage in distracting activities, such as talking on a cell phone. Teenagers are also less likely to use safety belts and this is why the death toll is so high. The Utah graduated drivers license system uses a number of additional permit and license restrictions to counteract these flaws.
Graduated Drivers License Stages
The graduated driver license system divides the licensing procedure into a number of separate steps. This approach allows teenagers to gain the first, the most essential driving hours in a relatively safe driving environment, under the supervision of a more experienced driver. As the applicant acquires driving skills, additional driving privileges are granted. If the applicant cannot demonstrate good progress at a certain stage of the program, he is retained at this stage until he meets all requirements.
At the moment, the graduated license program in Utah has the following stages:
- Learners permit (you may also know this document as a drivers permit or instruction permit)
- Restricted intermediate license
- Full drivers license
If you are 18 years of age or older, you are not required to follow the Utah graduated drivers license program and may apply for your drivers license through a simplified procedure. Although you don't have to meet the graduated license requirements, the testing procedures that you have to follow are exactly the same - you are required to pass both the Utah permit test and the drivers test. In addition to passing the tests, the state also requires you to complete a drivers education class which is mandatory for drivers of all ages. If you want to see what awaits you on your instruction permit test, you may take a free Utah practice permit test.
The minimum age for applying for a Utah learners permit is 15. The graduated license system mandates that you receive parental authorization for applying for a learners permit or drivers license. What this means is that your parents will need to approve you getting a permit and they will also have to assume financial responsibility for your actions. Your parents may also cancel this authorization any time before you turn 18 by submitting a request to the DPS. If your parents withdraw their approval, your driving privileges will be canceled.
The main reason why you are issued with a learners permit is to allow you to practice driving before you go in for your Utah drivers license test. You have to observe the following Utah permit restrictions until you pass the driving test:
- No driving alone. You must have a supervising driver seated next to you whenever you are behind the wheel. The supervising driver must be a professional driving instructor, a parent/legal guardian or another licensed driver at least 21 years of age who has signed for financial responsibility.
- No cell phones. You cannot use a cell phone or any other communication device while driving.
- Seat belts. Everyone present in the vehicle must wear a seat belt.
According to the Utah graduated driver license requirements, you must hold your instruction permit and observe these restrictions for at least six months. During this time, you must finish a state-certified Utah drivers education class either through your high school or through one of the commercial driving schools. At the moment, there are online drivers education classes that allow you to complete the classroom portion of drivers ed all online, so you won't have to spend time in the classroom.
In addition to completing a drivers ed class, you must also complete at least 40 hours of supervised driving with a parent or legal guardian, 10 of the hours must be done at night. Once these requirements are met and you pass your drivers test, you are granted a restricted drivers license.
Intermediate Drivers License
Drivers under the age of 18 who have already fulfilled all learners permit requirements are issued with an intermediate drivers license, as mandated by the Utah graduated license laws. An intermediate license allows unsupervised driving but still holds the following restrictions:
- Passenger restrictions. No passengers under the age of 18 who are not members of the driver's immediate family are allowed to be in the vehicle during the first six months following the license issuance. This restriction may be excused if there is a licensed driver at least 21 years of age seated in the front seat next to the licensee.
- Night time driving restriction. The curfew hours are midnight to 5 a.m. and you cannot drive during this time. The restriction may be lifted if you are traveling to/from a school or employment activity or when you are supervised by another licensed driver at least 21 years of age.
The nighttime driving restriction applies only to drivers under the age of 17.
Full Drivers License
Finally, the moment when you receive a full unrestricted drivers license and all graduated license restrictions are lifted. At this point, you do not have to visit the DPS and exchange your current license for another one, but you may do so if you wish (of course, the DPS may have you pay a duplicate license fee if you choose to do this). The official Utah drivers manual contains more information about the current license fees.