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State House approves limits on young drivers

Young Minnesota drivers should face limits on their driving, representatives decided Thursday.

The overall transportation bill that contains the provision passed 82-44.

For the first six months a youth has a driver's license, only one passenger 20 years old or younger, unrelated to the driver, can be in the vehicle.

Also during that first sixth months, the young person only may drive between midnight and 5 a.m. to and from work and school.

"No double dating for sophomores under this bill," Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, said as he unsuccessfully tried to eliminate restrictions on young drivers.

"The headline ought to be, Momma's driving you to prom," Westrom added.

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said he supports letting parents make driving decisions.

"I have two kids, let me raise them and you raise yours," he said.

The bill also outlines guidelines that require a contract bus company to conduct background checks on drivers of vans, station wagons and similar style buses. School employees such as teachers and coaches would not have to undergo further checks.

Other provisions in the bill:

-- Motorists must move away a lane, when possible, to allow space to maintenance or highway vehicles with flashing lights.

-- Trailers heavier than 3,000 pounds would need brakes; now, the limit is 6,000 pounds.

-- Drivers could not send text messages.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.