CHAPTER 282

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 288

AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 AND 2 AND

HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 3 AND 4

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 21 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO DRIVERS LICENSES AND MOTORCYCLE LICENSES.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (Two-thirds of all members elected to each house thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Amend Title 21, Section 2710 of the Delaware Code by deleting the existing section in its entirety and substituting in lieu of thereof:

"Section 2710. Issuance of a Level 1 Learner's Permit and Class D operator's license to persons under 18 years of age.

(a) The Division, upon receiving from any person over the age of 15 years, 10 months, an application for a Level 1 Learner's Permit, together with the fee required by law, may, in its discretion, issue such a permit entitling the applicant, with such a permit in the applicant's immediate possession, to drive a motor vehicle upon the highways of this State provided they meet all requirements for the permit. Eye screening and medical examinations will be required in accordance with Division policies.

The Division can issue a distinctively designed Level 1 Learner's Permit document or issue the permit holder a Class D license encased in a packet which explains the driver's limited driving privileges. If the permit holder completes the twelve month driving experience and the sponsor does not withdraw their endorsement, the Division will notify the permit holder by mail that he or she is eligible for a Class D license.

(b) Level 1 Learner's Permit. A person who is at least 15 years, 10 months old but less than 18 years old may obtain a Level 1 Learners Permit if the person has:

(1) Successfully completed a course in driver education in a public or private high school in this State, which has been approved by the Department of Education and meets the standards for such courses described by that Department. If the applicant has completed a course of instruction in driver education in a public or private high school outside this State, the applicant must produce a certified copy of their high school transcript evidencing the completion of the driver education course;

(2) Passed a written test and road skills test administered by the Division or administered by a driver education teacher. Students who require specialized evaluation, training or equipment to operate a motor vehicle because of a physical or mental disability will be identified by the driver education teacher and tested by the Division;

(3) Been certified by the driver education teacher as qualified for licensing; and

(4) Submitted an application signed by a sponsor as required by Subsection 2710(e),

(c) Restrictions pertaining to the Level 1 Learner's Permit.

A learner's permit authorizes the permit holder to drive the specified type or class of motor vehicles as those defined under Section 2702(d)(1) for 12 months only under the conditions listed below. If the learner's permit expires, the applicant will pay the appropriate fees and pass a written and road skills examination conducted by the Division.

(1) The Level 1 Learner's Permit must be in possession of the permit holder.

(2) When the permit holder is under mandatory supervision, the permit holder must be supervised by a properly licensed parent, guardian or a licensed driver at least 25 years of age who has held a Class D license for at least 5 years. The supervising driver must be seated beside the permit holder in the front seat of the vehicle when it is in motion. No person other than the supervising driver can be in the front seat.

(3) For the first six months after issuance, the permit holder may only drive supervised.

(4) After the first six months after issuance, the permit holder may drive unsupervised between the hours of 6:00 am. and 9:00 p.m. Such a permit holder may drive only with supervision from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 am, with the exception of times when the permit holder is traveling to and from church activities, work activities, and the permit holder's school. For purposes of this section, the term "school" shall not include school-related activities that do not take place on school property.

(5) No passengers other than the adult supervisor and two or fewer other passengers can be in the vehicle during the first year. During the second six month period of unsupervised driving, when a supervisor is not present, only two other passengers in addition to the driver can be in the vehicle.

(d) Class D license qualifications. A person who is at least 16 years and 10 months old but less than 18 years old may obtain a Class D operator's license if the person meets the following requirements:

(1) The Person has held a Level 1 Learner's Permit issued by the Division for at least twelve (12) months; and

(2) The Person has an application signed by a sponsor as specified in Section 2710(e). The sponsor's signature on the Level 1 Learner's Permit application authorizes the minor to obtain the Class D operator's license when eligible unless the sponsor withdraws, in writing, their authorization for any such license or permit.

(e) The Division shall not grant the application of any minor between the ages of 15 years, 10 months and 18 years for a operator's license or Level 1 Learner's Permit unless such application is signed both by the applicant and a sponsor who is the applicant's parent, guardian, or employer who resides in this State.

(1) Nevertheless, if the applicant has no parent, guardian, or employer residing in the State to act as their sponsor, another responsible adult person acceptable to the Secretary of Public Safety who resides with the applicant may sign the application.

(2) The following sponsors are listed in order of preference:

(a) Father or mother of the minor if both parents are living together within this State and the minor resides with both parents.

(b) Father of the minor, if the father is living within this State, and the minor resides with the father only, mother of the minor, if the mother is living within this State, and the minor resides with the mother only; or father or mother, if the father or mother live within this State, and the minor resides with neither parent, and the minor has no legal guardian within this State;

(c) Guardian of the minor, duly appointed, as such, under the laws of this State; or

(d) Employer of the minor, or by any suitable person acceptable to the Secretary of Public Safety.

(3) The Department shall not require as a prerequisite to the issuance of a license to a minor under this section, that the father, mother, or guardian who signs the minor's driver license application be present at the time the application is made by minor or sign the application at the offices of the Division of Motor Vehicle. The signing of the application and acknowledgment, thereof, by the parent, or guardian, before a notary public or other person authorized to administer oaths shall be deemed sufficient to satisfy the requirements of this section. However, sponsors designated in paragraph (2)d. of this subsection shall sign the minor's license application in the presence of a Division representative.

(4) The sponsor who signs the driver's license application on behalf of a minor has final authority to determine if the minor is capable of handling the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle and authority to designate who can supervise the minor driver per Section 2710(c)(2). The sponsor who signed the application on behalf of the minor can withdraw their endorsement at any time until the minor reaches age 18, thereby canceling the minor's driving authority regardless of the type of permit or license held. To reinstate the canceled driving privileges, an approved sponsor must sign the application on behalf of the minor. When the minor turns 18, they can reinstate their previously held driving privileges without a sponsor's signature. The applicant can reinstate the driving privileges of a canceled license when they meet the license requirements and pay the appropriate license fee.

(5) It shall be unlawful for any person to sign the application of a minor under the provisions of this section when such application misstates the age of the minor or misrepresents the sponsor's relationship to the minor. Any person who violates this provision shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, and both the minor applicant and the sponsor's driving privileges shall be suspended for 2 months per Section 2733(a)(5).

(f) Out-of-State Driver License Transfer. A person who is at least 15 years, 10 months old but less than 18 years old, who was a resident of another state and has a drivers license issued by that state, and who becomes a resident of this State may obtain Delaware driving authority under the following conditions:

(1) If the applicant was issued the out-of-state drivers license for less than twelve (12) months, they are eligible to apply for a Level 1 Learners Permit when meeting the requirements under Section 2710 (b) and successfully completing a driver education training program approved by the Delaware Department of Education.

(2) If the applicant was issued the out-of-state driver's license for over 12 months, and has successfully completed a driver education training program approved by the Delaware Department of Education, he or she is eligible to apply for a Class D operator's license after meeting the requirements of Section 2710 (e). Additionally, such a minor applicant must pass a written and road skills examination conducted by the Division.

(3) If the applicant holds an out-of-state drivers license and he or she is over 18 years old, he or she can apply for a Delaware Class D operators license under Sections 2712 and 2713.

(g) Duration and Fees. A Level 1 Learner's Permit expires 12 months after the date of issuance. If the applicant's learners permit expires, the permit shall be void. The permit can be reissued when the applicant meets the permit requirements. The applicant must pay the $12.50 Class D license fee at the time of initial application.

(h) It is unlawful for the holder of a Level I Learner's Permit to operate a motor vehicle in violation of the restrictions that apply to the Level 1 Learner's Permit. Failure to comply with these restrictions constitutes operating a motor vehicle without a license under Section 2701(a).

(i) The Division shall not issue an operator's license or Level 1 Learners Permit to a person who has not reached the person's 18th birthday at the time of the offense if the person has been adjudicated delinquent as a result of acts which would constitute such an offense if committed by an adult as set forth in Section 2732 (a) of this Title.

(j) The Department may immediately suspend a minors permit, license, and/or driving privileges whenever the Department has reason to believe that such person is a reckless or negligent driver of a motor vehicle or has committed a serious moving traffic violation. The Secretary may promulgate policy regulations more stringent than those that apply to other drivers when suspending minors. The suspension period will be for 1 month for the first suspension and three months for subsequent suspensions under this subsection. No suspension under this section shall be used by a motor vehicle insurance company licensed to sell insurance in this State as a basis for canceling a policy of insurance or to raise the premium cost to the insured.

(k) Driver Education Learners Permit. The Division, upon receiving proper notice that a person is currently enrolled in a driver's education course and successfully completed the minimum class hours of actual driving experience and in-the-car observation as approved by the Department of Education, may issue a driver education learners permit to such person for up to 2 months prior to the person's 16th birthday, provided the person meets all other Division requirements. This permit is issued at no cost and it is valid for four months. The application must be signed by the sponsor pursuant to Section 2710(e).

1. Any person issued a driver education learners permit pursuant to this subsection is entitled to drive a motor vehicle described in Section 2702(d)(1) upon the highways only when supervised by a properly licensed parent or guardian. If the parent(s) or guardian(s) is (are) not licensed to operate a motor vehicle, the holder of the driver education learners permit must be supervised by a licensed driver who is 25 years of age or older and have held a Class D drivers license for at least 5 years. The supervising driver must be seated beside the permit holder in the front seat of the vehicle when it is M motion. No person other than the supervising driver can be in the front seat.

2. The driver education learners permit must be in the possession of the permit holder.

3. No passengers other than the adult supervisor and two or fewer other passengers can be in the vehicle.

4. Driving experience obtained while holding this permit will be counted towards and in conjunction with the driving experience restrictions contained in Section 2710(c)(3)."

Section 2. Amend Section 2711, Title 21 by adding the following new paragraph (c) to read:

"(c) Regardless of the age of the applicant, the Division shall require a birth certificate, or certified copy thereof, or some other evidence satisfactory to the Division of the applicant's name and date of birth."

Section 3. Amend Section 2703, Title 21 of the Delaware Code by deleting the existing subparagraph (d) in its entirety and substituting in lieu of thereof:

"(d) The authorization or endorsement specified in subsection (a) of this section shall not be issued by the Division to any person under the age of 18 years unless the application therefor is signed by both the applicant and by the parent, guardian, or employer of the applicant with whom the applicant resides in this State.

(1) If the applicant has no parent, guardian, or employer residing in the State, by some other responsible adult person over the age of 21 who is acceptable to the Secretary of Public Safety who resides with the applicant.

(2) The following sponsors are listed in order of priority:

a. Father or mother of the minor, if both parents are living together within this State and the minor resides with both parents:

b. Father of the minor, if the father is living within this State, and the minor resides with the father only; mother of the minor, if the mother is living within this State and the minor resides with the mother only; or the father or mother, if the father or mother live within this State, and the minor resides with neither parent, and the minor has no legal guardian within this State:

c. Guardian of the minor, duly appointed as such under the laws of this State; or

d. Employer of the minor, or by any suitable person acceptable to the Secretary of Public Safety.

(3) The Department shall not require as a prerequisite to the issuance of a license to a minor under this section, that the father, mother, or guardian who signs the minor's driver license application be present at the time the application is made by the minor, or sign the application at the offices of the Division of Motor Vehicle. The signing of the application and acknowledgment thereof by the natural parent, or guardian before a notary public or other person authorized to administer oaths shall be deemed sufficient to satisfy the requirements of this section. Sponsors designated in paragraph (2)d of this subsection shall sign the minor's license application in the presence of a Division representative.

(4) The sponsor who signs the motorcycle endorsement application on behalf of a minor can withdraw their sponsorship at any time until the minor reaches 18 years of age, thereby canceling the minor's authority to drive a motorcycle. Once canceled, the applicant can reapply for a motorcycle endorsement when they meet the provisions of Section 2703 and pay the endorsement fee.

(5) It shall be unlawful for any person to sign the application of a minor under the provisions of this section when such application misstates the age of the minor or misrepresents themselves or their relationship to the minor. Any person who violates this provision shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Both the minor applicant and the sponsor's driver's license will be suspended for 2 months under Section 2733(a)(5)."

Section 4. Amend Title 21, Section 2703 of the Delaware Code by deleting the existing subsection (a) in its entirety and substituting in lieu of thereof:

"(a) No person shall operate a motorcycle, motorbike or other 2-wheeled, motor-driven vehicle upon a highway of this State without having been properly licensed and having passed, to the satisfaction of the Department, an examination testing the person's ability to operate such vehicle safely. The Department shall issue a separate license for the operation of such vehicle or shall note on the license authorization to operate the same. A temporary motorcycle instruction permit can be issued to a person age 18 or older after passing a written motorcycle examination. This permit expires in 60 days. If for any reason whatsoever the applicant fails to pass the required road skills examination during the 60-day period granted by the permit, the permit shall be void, and the fee paid therefor shall be forfeited unless the applicant requests an extension thereof and pays the sum of $2.00. Upon payment of said sum the Division shall immediately issue 1 extension only of the permit for an additional 60 days. If the applicant fails to pass the required examination within the additional 60- day period, the permit shall become void. The following provisions shall apply to a person while operating a motorcycle with a temporary instruction permit for the operation of a motorcycle:

1. No passengers shall be allowed on the motorcycle;

2. Operating a motorcycle between sunset and sunrise is prohibited;

3. A safety helmet and eye protection as approved by the Secretary of Public Safety must be worn; and,

4. Operation is not permitted on the federal interstate highway system."

Section 5. Amend Title 21, Section 2712 of the Delaware Code by deleting the existing section in its entirety and substituting in lieu of thereof:

"Section 2712. Application for temporary instruction permits and Class D operator's license for persons age 18 or older.

(a) A Class D temporary instruction permit may be issued to a person age 18 years or older. A temporary permit shall entitle the applicant to drive during a 60-day period only when the applicant is accompanied by a licensed operator over the age of 21 who is actually occupying a seat beside the driver and there are no more than 2 other persons in the vehicle.

(b) If for any reason whatsoever the applicant fails to pass the required examination during the 60-day period granted by the permit, the permit shall be void, and the fee paid therefore shall be forfeited unless the applicant requests an extension thereof and pays the sum of $2.00 therefor. Upon payment of the said sum, the Division shall immediately issue only one extension of the permit for an additional 60-days. If the applicant fails to pass the required examination within the additional 60-day period, the permit shall become void.

(c) The applicant must successfully pass a written examination before being issued a temporary instruction permit, and pass a practical road skills examination before being issued a Class D operator's license. Eye screening and medical examinations will be administered in accordance with Division policies.

(d) It is unlawful for the holder of a Class D temporary instruction permit to operate a motor vehicle when the applicant is not accompanied by a licensed operator over the age of 21 years who is seated beside the driver or if there are more than two other persons in the vehicle. Failure to comply with Section 2712(a) restrictions constitutes operating a motor vehicle without a license under Section 2701(a)."

Section 6. Amend Title 21, Section 2702 of the Delaware Code by adding the following new subsections (d) and (e):

"(d) Vehicles Driven by Minor Permit Holders.

(1) A 'Driver Education Learners Permit' authorizes the holder to operate those vehicles that a holder of a Class D operators license can operate.

(2) A 'Level 1 Learners Permit' authorizes the holder to operate those vehicles referenced under Section 2702(d)(1)."

Section 7. Amend Title 21, Section 2701(a) of the Delaware Code by adding the following:

"(1) Those students enrolled in an approved Delaware Department of Education driver education course can drive without a learner's permit when under the supervision of a certified drive education teacher.

(2) Failure to adhere to the Level 1 Learner's Permit restrictions under Section 2710(c) ( temporary instruction permit restrictions under Section 2712(a) constitutes a violation of the section. Those motor vehicle operators holding a Level 1 Learners Permit or temporary instruction permit who violate this Section will be suspended for 2 months for the first offense and 4 months for any subsequent offenses."

Section 8. Amend Title 21, Section 6105 by deleting in subsection (a) the phrase "§2712" and substituting in lieu thereof the phrase "§2710."

Section 9. Amend Title 21, Section 6105, by adding in subsection (b), after both phrase "original license", the phrases "or permit".

Section 10. Amend Title 21, Section 2713 by adding a new section (d) as follows:

"(d) Written and road skill examinations for students duly enrolled in a driver education course will be administered by driver education teachers certified by the Delaware Department of Education. Upon successful completion of the driver education course, certified teacher must issue a 'High School Driver Education Certificate' which will be accepted in lieu of the written and road skill examinations administered by the Division for a period ( months from the date of issue. No further testing by the Division is required unless the School Driver Education Certificate has expired; in such event, full testing is required. Stu identified as disabled will attend specialized training and be examined by the Division. All persons under age 18 who transfer their out-of-state license for a Delaware license must be a written and road test by the Division. Any person who is suspended while operating a vehicle on a Level 1 Learner's Permit, Drivers Education Learners Permit or tern' instruction permit will be re-examined before reinstatement. "

Section 11. The Division of Motor Vehicles shall promulgate regulations necessary to implement this Act.

Section 12. Severability. If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person, thing or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect the provisions or application of this Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or applications, and to this end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.

Section 13. Effective date. This Act shall become effective on July 1, 1999, with the exception of Sections 11 and 12 which shall become effective immediately upon enactment.

Approved May 22, 1998