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Know the Law: Teenage Driving and Legal Liability

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Know the Law: Teenage Driving
Posted at 10:59 AM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 10:59:01-04

With the school year fully underway, many Michigan families are also sending their teenagers off to driver’s training. But having a new driver in your home also means making sure you understand the basic laws of legal liability and auto insurance. Grand Rapids auto accident lawyer, Tom Sinas, shares the specifics of insuring young drivers, as well as owner liability and insurance considerations for parents.

Michigan law requires teenagers to go through the Graduated Driver Licensing System before they can apply for a license. This process consists of two driver education segments and three licensing levels. Once a teenager reaches the age of fourteen years, eight months old, they can begin segment one of the licensing process.

Segment one includes:

  • 24 hours of classroom instruction
  • Six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction
  • Four hours of observation time in a training vehicle.

Once segment one is complete, teenagers can apply for a level one driver’s license at a Secretary of State branch office. A level one driver’s license lets a teenager drive with a parent or another adult 21 years or older.

Teenagers can start the second driver’s education segment after they have had a level one license for at least three months. During those three months, your teenager must log 30 roadway hours.

Segment two of driver’s education includes:

  • Six hours of classroom instruction
  • Logging at least 50 hours of supervised driving.

Once a teen completes segment two, they can receive a certificate of completion. After the teen receives that certificate and has been driving for at least six months, they may apply to take the driving skills test. Passing the driving skills test grants them their level two intermediate driver’s license. After having a level two license for at least six months, the teen may be eligible for their level three full license. They must be at least 17 years old and must have driven 12 straight months without getting a moving violation, accident, license suspicion, or a violation of the graduated license restrictions.

Other than a teen knowing how to drive, a parent’s education on how and when to notify their insurance company regarding their teen’s use of the family vehicle is equally important. Most often, parents add a teen driver to the family’s auto insurance policy. However, due to the changing dynamics of the modern family – such as multiple households, blended families, custodial parent obligations – discussions with the insurance company early on in the process about when and how to add a child to the family auto insurance policy is important.

Most Michigan no-fault insurance policies generally do not require additional insurance for teenage drivers who are not yet licensed. However, the vehicle the teen uses to accumulate their required “behind-the-wheel” hours must have properly acquired no-fault insurance coverage.

Once your teen has completed their required “behind-the-wheel” hours and passed their driving test, a parent’s insurance obligations may change. Therefore, once a teenage driver reaches this point, parents should notify their insurer and confirm whether any additional no-fault insurance is required. In situations where your teenager owns his or her own vehicle, insurance companies may require that separate auto no-fault insurance be purchased for that vehicle.

Finally, under no circumstances withhold information from the insurance company about the teenage driver to get cheaper insurance rates. If insurance coverage is purchased for new drivers without disclosing all of the information requested by the insurance company, the insurance company can legally cancel your insurance policy, even after the auto accident has occurred.

Failing to notify your insurer that your teen will be driving the family car or their own vehicle can have drastic consequences. If you don’t notify your car insurance company of your new driver and they cause or are involved in a serious car accident while driving, your insurer may not cover your teen’s medical bills. Further, your teen may not be able to sue an at-fault driver who caused the car accident, even if your teen was completely innocent and suffered serious injury as a result.

By keeping an open and honest line of communication with the insurance company, parents can ensure that they'll not be paying monthly premiums for insurance benefits you will never receive.

If the teenager was involved in an accident, it is best to reach out to an attorney experienced in no-fault law and all the nuances surrounding insuring a teenage driver.

Learn more by calling Sinas Dramis Law Firm at (616)-301-3333 or visit sinasdramis.com.

Know the Law is sponsored by Sinas Dramis Law Firm. Information is provided by Sinas Dramis Law Firm.