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Research has shown that in states where a graduated licensing program is in place, teen traffic-related crashes have declined. Taking the time to improve your driving skills before you take the road test and become licensed can save lives―in particular, yours. In the District of Columbia, this program is called GRAD (Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers).
As part of this program, first-time drivers younger than 21 must get a learner's permit from the DC Department of Motor Vehicles before they may become licensed. The process for applying for a permit is outlined in our Driver Education article.
In order to graduate from a learner's permit to a provisional license, you must log 40 hours of driving practice with an experienced driver older than 21 who has a valid driver's license. When you have had your learner's permit for six consecutive months with no point violations and logged your 40 practice hours, your next step is to schedule an appointment for a road test (you may make an appointment online).
If your learner's permit should expire before you graduate to the provisional license stage, then you will need to renew it within 90 days in order to avoid having to retake the knowledge test.
Fill out the GRAD application form when you appear at the DMV road test location. Don't forget to bring along the log certifying that you practiced driving under supervision for 40 hours. If you pass the driving test, you'll pay a $44 licensing fee and be issued a provisional driver's license. Congratulations! Now you may drive alone, but not late at night.
And your work's not done yet. Now you'll have to log 10 hours of nighttime driving with an over-21 driver supervising you. Then, six months after being issued your provisional license, you can upgrade to a full license as long as you haven't had any traffic tickets in the preceding 12 months.
The District of Columbia's GRAD program has built-in restrictions about vehicle passengers. Drivers under 18 may not drive more than two passengers who are younger than 21 unless they are siblings of the driver. This restriction minimizes distractions for the new driver.
It is also important to avoid the distraction of loud music and cell phones. The District of Columbia has therefore passed the Distracted Driving Safety Act of 2004, which places restrictions on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle. Under this law, no one is allowed to use a mobile phone while driving without a hands-free device unless they are placing an emergency call and unless he or she is a law enforcement official who is acting within the scope of his or her job. This applies to adults as well as minors.
Despite the often sobering statistics about teen traffic-related deaths, driving can and should be a safe, enjoyable activity. Taking the time to practice your driving skills under the supervision of an experienced driver can help you avoid costly mistakes.Driving Schools
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