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House panel rejects graduated driver's license plan

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A Legislative committee is recommending against passage of a new graduated driver’s license bill.

The measure would have put in restrictions on when a driver 18 and under could be behind the wheel, and how many passengers they could have in the car. It would also extend the period where a new driver would have to have a permit, so the driver could get used to varying conditions on the roadways.

Nancy Cena of Minot lost her 18 year old son in May in a crash. She told the House Transportation Committee his car was struck by one driven by a 16 year old, who had another 16 year old with him. The crash happened about 11 pm.  Cena said says the 16 year old was a farm kid, who had been up for a number of hours, and was cruising with his girlfriend when the crash happened. 

"We are allowing our chilren to die, and kill other people, by not having stricter laws in place for them," Cena told the Committee. "It is no different than having restrictions on when you can drink, or buy a pack of cigarettes, or when you can vote, orf when you can join the military."

Rep. Greg Westlind (R-Cando) is a member of that committee, and he moved for a “do-not-pass” recommendation. Westlind said he has two grandsons who live 35 miles from Cando. He said one is a 9th grader, and he says their mother works from home.

“My grandson's very responsible," Westlind told the committe. "He's driven every type of vehicle on our farm. I just feel kids are more responsible today, and it would be an undue burden on parents in rural atras to have this age raised to 18.”              

The committee voted nine to six to recommend the House kill the bill. It will still be debated on the House floor.

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