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Understanding the Vanessa Law DWI, Traffic Violations

Understanding the Vanessa Law

1 year ago by Justin M. Schiks
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In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in awareness regarding the importance of safe driving, particularly for young and inexperienced drivers. One of the key laws implemented to address this critical issue is the Vanessa Law in Minnesota. 


This legislation aims to reduce the risks of teen driving accidents by imposing additional restrictions and requirements on drivers under the age of 18.


Named in memory of Vanessa Weiss, a young woman who tragically lost her life in a car accident, this law aims to create safer roads.


However, teens can find themselves in trouble under the Vanessa Law for DWI or traffic violations, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. 


Overview of  the Vanessa Law


Passed in 2008, the Vanessa Law is designed to improve the graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) program in Minnesota and help protect new teen drivers from fatal accidents during their first years on the road. 


The GDL process involves three stages: instruction permit, provisional license, and full driver’s license.


To progress through each stage, drivers must meet specific age requirements, accumulate supervised driving hours, adhere to nighttime driving curfews, and maintain a clean driving record.


Key Provisions of Graduated Licensing


Nighttime Driving Curfew: Graduated licensing, which works in connection with the Vanessa Law, enforces stricter nighttime driving restrictions for young drivers.


Those with provisional licenses, who are under 18, cannot operate their vehicles between midnight and 5 am


This cannot be done unless they are accompanied by a licensed driver over 25 years of age, or unless they’re traveling directly between home and work or from school-related activities.


Zero-Tolerance Policy on Cell Phone Use: The use of cell phones while driving is prohibited for anyone holding a provisional license or instruction permit, regardless of age.


This restriction applies to both handheld and hands-free devices.


Mandatory Seat Belt Use: Graduated licensing emphasizes the importance of everyone in the vehicle wearing a seatbelt, regardless of their position within the car.


Stricter Penalties for Rule Violations: Young drivers who breach graduated licensing or Vanessa Law rules will face harsher penalties.


These penalties may include demerit points on their license, fines, or even license suspension.


What the Vanessa Law Says About Crash-Related Offenses and Underage Drinking and Driving


The Vanessa Law makes the following provisions:


  1. Underage unlicensed drivers who receive a crash-related traffic violation cannot get a driver’s license, instruction permit, or provisional license until their eighteenth birthday.
  2. An underaged unlicensed driver who is arrested for DWI or underage drinking and driving cannot get a driver’s license, or instruction permit or provisional license, until they are 18 years old. 
  3. This also includes an open container violation. Even if your BAC is .00 and you’re caught driving with an open container of alcohol, you’ll be arrested and charged with DWI.
  4. The law also extends to underage drivers with a provisional license who receive a driver’s license revocation or crash-related violation. They won’t receive the provisional license until they are 18 years old. 

The Not-a-Drop Law


If a driver has not yet turned 21 years old and is arrested and convicted of drinking and driving, they will lose their license for at least 30 to 180 days, among other consequences.


Always seek help from a Woodbury, MN DWI Lawyer to defend against underage DWI charges.


Contact a Woodbury, MN Criminal Defense Attorney Today About an Underage Drinking and Driving Case


As you can see from the above talking points, the Vanessa Law is a complicated piece of legislation.


If you want to understand your rights in this regard, contact a Woodbury DWI defense attorney right away.


Near Woodbury-St. Paul, MN, your go-to law firm is JS Defense, PA. Contact us now to schedule an appointment. Call: 651.362.9426

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Justin M. Schiks who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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