Some days you may feel like asking yourself, “Why did I have kids, again?” Sure, you love your kids, but they can certainly try your patience — and drain your wallet. Once your teenager starts driving, money can disappear out of your bank account like planets sucked down a black hole. If Junior gets a traffic ticket, you’ll find yourself in a whole new universe of “How’d I get this poor?” So, is it worth paying a lawyer to fix it? Does your teenager really need a lawyer for a traffic ticket? To answer that, you need to understand how the laws for teenage drivers work.
When your little darlings reach the age of 15 years and nine months, they can apply for a learner’s permit in the state of Maryland. Anyone under the age of 16 needs to submit a Learner’s Permit School Attendance Certification form with their application. Teens must pass both a written driver’s test and a vision test to be granted a learner’s permit. Hanging onto that permit, though, can be a challenge for some new drivers.
Teens with a learner’s permit can only drive when accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age with three or more years of driving experience sitting in the front seat. This puts a serious crimp on your teenage driver’s plans to hang out with friends on a Friday night. If he’s caught by the cops driving without that licensed driver up front, say “good-bye, learner’s permit” and “hello, expensive traffic ticket.”
If Junior can hang on to that permit for nine months without messing up, he can work on getting a provisional license. This requires at least 60 hours of certified practice driving (10 of it at night), keeping a practice driving skills log for the Motor Vehicle Administration, and completing a driver’s education course.
Provisional licenses have quite a few restrictions attached: No driving between five a.m. and midnight except for employment, school activities, volunteer programs or athletic events. No passengers under the age of 18, except family members or household relatives. Both these restrictions are lifted if the teen is accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older with three years of driving experience.
Your teen must manage not to acquire any driving convictions for 18 consecutive months before he can qualify for a full, non-provisional driver’s license. The problem is, things like not using a cell phone—hands-free or hand-held—or making sure everybody in the car is wearing a seat belt—another rule for teen drivers—are difficult for a young person to comply with. That’s one reason why so many teenage drivers end up getting tickets. That, and their penchant for driving at warp speed.
What To Do When There’s a Ticket
You’re used to your teenager costing you money you never anticipated. So, you’ll just pay the ticket for Junior and make sure he spends the entire summer mowing the lawn every Saturday, right? Wrong. Not unless you like paying hundreds of dollars in fines and way more in auto insurance than you ever dreamed. And if your kid loses the provisional license, will that mean you spend time ferrying him back and forth to school, extracurricular activities, work, or Star Wars conventions? You thought you had little enough time to yourself before; now you’ve set the child-rearing time-line back several years. An experienced attorney has a good chance of getting a ticket dropped, or at least arranging a plea agreement for a reduced charge.
There’s no question that this is a hard one for a parent. You want to show some tough love by making your teenager face up to his responsibilities. But it takes very little for a teenager to lose the severely restricted driving privileges he has. Hiring an attorney increases the odds that your teenage driver can keep driving, you can keep from paying court fines and extra insurance premiums, and you both can spend your time doing what really matters—like binge-watching reruns of Battlestar Galactica.