SIKESTON -- All drivers who have an Intermediate Driver's License have passenger restrictions, regardless of when they received their Intermediate License.
On Aug. 28, a passenger restriction went into effect for those who are driving in the Intermediate License level of the Graduated Driver's License.
"I guess there's confusion on the part of young drivers and parents on who it applies to," said Capt. J.T. "Tim" Hull, director of the public information division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
"We've getting a lot of phone calls," Hull said. Apparently, some believe those who received their Intermediate License before Aug. 28 are "grandfathered" out of the restriction, but that is not the case, he said.
Hull explained the new law states that for the first six months after the issuance of the Intermediate License, the holder of the license shall not operate a motor vehicle with more than one passenger who is under the age of 19 who is not a member of the holder's immediate family.
An immediate family member is defined as brothers, sisters, stepbrothers or stepsisters of the driver, including adopted or foster children residing in the same household of the Intermediate Driver's License holder.
"Even if they got their Intermediate License prior to Aug. 28, if they're still in their first six months ... the restriction still does apply," Hull said.
After the first six months, the holder of an Intermediate Driver's License is restricted to three passengers under the age of 19 who are not immediate family members.
"That would go until they move to their full license which is at age 18," Hull said.
It doesn't matter how long ago they received their Intermediate License. Even those who are just about to turn 18 are still limited to three passengers, Hull said.
The intent of the law is to keep young drivers safe by reducing the number of distractions within the vehicle as driver inattention is currently the No. 1 contributing circumstance to traffic crashes in Missouri.
For those not familiar with how the Graduated Driver's License system works, the first step is a driver's permit which is issued after the driver passes the written test.
"At age 15, you can get a permit," Hull said.
A permit requires a parent or guardian who is a licensed driver to be in the car while the permit holder is driving.
Those who are age 16 or older who have completed 20 hours of driving on a permit are eligible to take the driving portion of the driver's license test. On Jan. 1, the minimum driving hours goes up to 40 hours, 10 of which must be at night, Hull noted.
Those who pass the driving test are then issued the Intermediate Driver's License.
In addition to the passenger restrictions that went into effect Aug. 28, Intermediate Driver's License holders have other restrictions.
For example, seat belts must be worn by the driver and all passengers, unlike a full driver's license which only requires front-seat occupants to be buckled up, Hull said.
Intermediate Driver's License holders are also not allowed to drive alone between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. except to or from school or a job. "They just need to make sure they are going straight home," Hull said.
Drivers are eligible for a full driver's license at age 18.