State crackdown on teen drivers set to take effect

BRIDGEPORT - Dozens of Connecticut teenagers are scrambling to obtain their driver's licenses before tougher teen driving laws go into effect Friday.

According to the new provisions, 16- and 17-year-olds will have to have a minimum of 40 hours behind the wheel before they can get their driver's license. During the first six months, they will not be allowed to have any passengers in their car except for instructors or parents.

Additionally, the new rules include an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for teens who get their licenses on or after Aug. 1.

Parents must also take part in their teen?s driving education by attending a two-hour class. That is why the mother of Cayla Liptak, who accompanied her daughter to the DMV, hopes she will get her learner?s permit today.

"To fit those hours in is going to be really difficult," Liptak?s mother says, "so if we can bypass those, I'll be happy."

According to state legislators, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for Connecticut teenagers. They hope the new law reverses that trend.

Members of the DMV and representatives of several police departments say they are ready to enforce the new laws that go into effect after midnight Thursday.

DMV Commissioner Robert Ward says police officers will be handing out stiffer penalties during traffic stops involving teen drivers.

"If you?re caught violating that law, you're going to stop driving at that moment that you're caught," Ward says. "Your license will be seized for 48 hours and the car will be on the side of the road ? perhaps towed, perhaps secured in a safe location."

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