🚗 NJ currently requires no practice hours between a permit and a license

🚗 50 practice hours will soon be required; 10 must occur when the sun is down

🚗 It's up to a teen's parent or guardian to certify the practice hours

Advocates for road safety were delivered a big win at the start of 2024, when Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that requires young permit holders to undergo dozens of practice hours behind the wheel before being able to earn their license.

Now the state has to get the rule up and running, and it'll be up to teens' parents or guardians to prove that the required driving was actually performed.

If parents or the young drivers are untruthful, it's the minor who would have to pay the price (suspended driving privileges).

NJ's practice-driving law

Under the legislation signed into law on Jan. 8, individuals under the age of 21 with their permit need to complete at least 50 hours of certified practice driving, with a parent or other supervisor in the vehicle, in order to obtain a license.

At least 20% of the practice driving has to occur during hours of darkness, the law says.

The supervising drivers will be in charge of certifying that the permit holder has completed the required hours. The certification process is to be established by the Motor Vehicle Commission.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the MVC said the agency will provide additional details closer to implementation of the law.

Proving practice hours

Required practice hours are already in place in nearly every other state. In New York, guardians must keep a signed log of the practice hours that were handled by driving schools. When it's handed in, the guardian must also certify that any practice hours not noted in the form were completed under the supervision of a licensed older driver.

As part of New Jersey's new law, a sample practice driving log will have to be included in informational brochures that are distributed to parents of beginning drivers under the age of 18.

"I know a paper log may seem a bit clunky, but there are also apps out there," said Tara Gill, senior director of state and federal government relations with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The Washington, D.C.-based alliance noted that drivers aged 16 to 19 are three times as likely to be in a fatal crash. From 2018 through 2022, more than 300 fatalities in New Jersey involved drivers under the age of 21.

If a fraudulent certification is submitted, the MVC is able to suspend the driving privileges of a permit holder for six months, New Jersey's law says.

When does NJ's practice-hours law take effect?

The MVC has a while to solidify New Jersey's certification process.

The bill notes that it would not take effect until the "first day of the 13th month after enactment," so mandatory practice hours won't kick in until 2025.

When that happens, Arkansas and Mississippi will be the only states in the U.S. that do not require teen practice hours between earning a permit and a license.

"These driving hours are so essential," Gill said. "Learning to drive safely is a combination of repetition over time, and that's what these supervised driving hours provide."

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