The Laws & Issues for Teenage Drivers in Massachusetts

Recently, a study revealed Massachusetts as the number one safest driving environment for teen drivers. A teenager can obtain their Learner’s Permit in Massachusetts at the age of 16. In order to obtain their Learner’s Permit, they have to go to a Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles office and pass a written or computerized test.  There are approximately 25 questions on a permit test.  In order to pass you must get at least 18 questions correct, or score a 72%.  Once obtained, a Massachusetts Learner’s Permit is only valid for two years following issuance. 

A Learner’s Permit is issued to allow time for an individual to legally practice driving and accumulate driving hours. Teenagers, who obtain their Learner’s Permit in Massachusetts, have age-specific laws they need to obey, in addition to general rules of the road.  If these restrictions are violated, their driving privileges may be revoked by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. 

After six months of having a permit and passing a driver’s education and training course, they are eligible to take a road test to earn a Junior Operator License.  Generally, this road test can be taken through the driver’s education school or through a Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles office. 

When a teen under 18-years-old has their Junior Operating License, they are only allowed to have certain passengers in the car. For the first six months following issuance of a license, teens are not allowed to have passengers under the age of 18 that are not immediate family members, unless, a passenger who has a license and is aged 21 or older is sitting in the passenger seat. There is also a curfew for teen drivers. Teen drivers cannot drive between the hours of 12:30AM and 5:00AM unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for a year following the issuance of their license. 

When a driver with a Learner’s Permit or Junior Operating License is involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is usually assumed that they were at fault due to their inexperience. This is, of course, not always true. Our office has recently handled an auto accident claim where a driver with a Junior Operating License suffered a head injury and knee injury in a car accident in Metrowest. The other driver told his insurance company that the junior operator caused the accident. Our client, the junior operator, however, explained the accident in a much different way to us. The junior operator made a smart decision to consult with a car accident lawyer before speaking with the insurance company.

An insurance company will normally give credit to their insured’s version of how the accident happened. In this situation, the other driver’s insurance company initially refused to accept 100% liability. But, our investigation of the accident resulted in locating a witness, who corroborated our client’s version of events. The impartial witness was the difference in having the other driver’s insurance company accepting liability for the accident.

So, just because one driver may be less experienced than the other, doesn’t automatically mean they were at fault. It is important to always follow the rules of the road, drive safely, and remember to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney after being hurt in a car crash before giving a statement to an insurance company. 

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