If you've ever wondered whether any good can come from tragedy, consider Joshua's Law. Joshua Robert Brown was 17 years old when he died from serious injuries following a car accident. His legacy is stricter requirements for teen drivers in his home state of Georgia and in 13 other U.S. states. These laws have helped reduce teen driving fatalities.
Joshua's Law Meaning
After Joshua Brown died in 2003, his father wrote Joshua's Law to keep other teenage drivers safer on the roads of Georgia. The result was the Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act, which requires teens to get specific driving experience and instruction before obtaining a driver's license beyond their learner's permit. The law also imposes time-of-day and passenger restrictions on drivers ages 16 and 17.
Joshua's Law has inspired similar laws in 13 other states and three national teen driving bills.
What Is the Joshua Law in Georgia?
Under Joshua's Law, all teens under age 17 in Georgia who apply for a Class D provisional driver's license must prove they have passed an approved driver education course from a certified driver training school. They also must complete at least 40 hours of supervised driving, six hours of which must be at night. A parent or guardian must execute a sworn verification that these requirements have been met.
The law also requires that all 17-year-olds complete at least 40 hours of supervised driving, including at least six hours at night, and provide the same verification in writing by a parent or guardian.
Can You Drive By Yourself if You Are 18 and Have a Permit?
At age 18, you can't drive unsupervised if you don't have a driver's license. If you have a permit – a restricted license given to someone learning to drive who hasn't yet fulfilled the requirements for a full driver's license – you can drive with supervision. The exact requirements vary by state.
In California, any adult 18 years or older who has a valid license can ride with you. In New York, the supervising adult must be 21 or older. In Georgia, where Joshua's Law was passed, the supervising adult must be at least 21 years old, possess a valid Class C (full) driver’s license, be seated next to the driver in the vehicle and be capable of exercising control over the vehicle if necessary.
Read More: Can You Get Your License At 18 Without a Permit?
Joshua's Law imposes tighter requirements on teen drivers in Georgia. Georgia's House and Senate passed the bill in 2005 with a majority of 87 percent, and the Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act went into effect on January 1, 2007.
- Georgia Department of Driver Services: Joshua's Law Requirements
- DriveSmartGeorgia.com: What Is Joshua's Law?
- State of California Department of Motor Vehicles: California Driver Handbook - Obtaining a Driver License
- New York State Department of Motor Vehicles: Learner Permit Restrictions
- Georgia Department of Driver Services: Teen Drivers
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.