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Swarts Hears from Anxious Teens about Driving Bills

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Some 15- and 16-year-olds in the Buffalo area are apparently worried about proposed changes in state law that will alter the rules for new drivers.

Erie County Clerk David Swarts says his office has been hearing from young people who are worried they might not be able to get their drivers licenses.

"We've been receiving a number of calls and emails from frantic young people who do not have a license yet," Swarts said. "They falsely believe that there will be an attempt by the State Legislature to increase the driving age to 18."

While that's not true, Swarts says both the State Senate and Assembly have each approved bills that call for new restrictions on young drivers. The Senate bill would prohibit a car operated by a driver with a learner's permit from having more than one passenger under age 21. And both bills would require more time before young drivers can get their license.

"When a young driver get their permit, these bills would not allow them to take their road test for at least six months," Swarts said. "And as they're learning to drive, someone 21 or older would have to supervise that driving."

Swarts said the word he's received is that both houses are expected to agree on a final bill sometime this year that can become law. But until that happens, he said the current rules remain in effect.