What you should know about Georgia law as your child turns 21 years old

April 11, 2012

Once your child reaches the age of 21, he or she may legally drink in Georgia, is no longer entitled to a free secondary education and is no longer subject to special traffic laws for drivers under 21.  Once your child turns 21, her driver’s license can no longer be suspended for certain specified violations or one conviction that carries 4 points; rather, she will be treated like other licensed drivers 21 and older, and will be able to accumulate 14 points every two years before her license will be suspended on the basis of points upon reaching 15 points.  Of course, driver’s licenses can be suspended for certain offenses in addition to accummulating 15 points in a two year period.

What laws apply to your 18-year-old

April 3, 2012

When your child reaches his or her 18th birthday, he or she is legally emancipated.  This means that she will be treated as an adult under the law, except for laws involving the consumption of alcohol.  Thus, the contracts (including leases) she enters into are valid and binding on her and she can do a number of things without parental consent:  marry, move out of the house, enter the armed forces, obtain an abortion and retain her own wages.  18-year olds are also entitled to change school districts or withdraw from school on their own.   Once they turn 18, they are no longer subject to the state’s child welfare laws and do not have to remain in foster care.  They are also entitled to vote in local, state and federal elections, if they satisfy other criteria such as having a valid state-issued i.d.  However, because they are still considered relatively new drivers, 18-year-olds can still have their driver’s licenses suspended for certain specified convictions (which are the same as  for those under 21) or for accumulating 4 or more points in a twelve-month period.  They are also now eligible age-wise, to apply for a regular Class C driver’s license.

What you should know about the law and your 17-year-old

April 3, 2012

When your child turns 17, she can obtain a class D driver’s license without having taken or passed driver’s ed.  She must have a valid instruction permit which is not under suspension and have not been convicted of specified violations in the previous 12 months prior to applying for the license.  She is also now considered an “adult” for criminal purposes.  She cannot vote or withdraw herself from school or change school districts without the consent of her parent/legal guardian.

A word about school and driver’s licenses:  if a child less than 18 years of age withdraws from school without being home-schooled or enrolled in a GED program or having earned a high school diploma or equivalent, she will not be able to obtain a learner’s permit or driver’s license.  Further, if a child under 18 has dropped out of school without graduating and has been out of school for 10 days in a row, or has at least 10 unexcused absences in the current or previous academic year or has violated certain specified school conduct rules (such as possessing or selling drugs or possessing a weapon on campus or at a school event, certain sexual offenses, or threatening, hitting or causing personal injury to a teacher or other school staff, or “causing substantial physical or visible bodily harm to or seriously disfiguring another person”), her driver’s license (or learner’s permit) will be suspended.  The child will receive an official notice from DDS and, if she does not send a written request for a hearing within 10 days of receipt of the notice, her permit/license will remain suspended for a year, unless certain exceptions apply.

What to know when your child turns 16

March 20, 2012

When your child turns 16, she is no longer required to attend (public, private or home) school, as Georgia’s compulsory school attendance law only applies between her 6th and 16th birthdays. If, however, she has a truancy problem, she will need you to withdraw her from school since she will not be legally “emancipated” until she turns 18. If you don’t withdraw your truant child, and she has accumulated roughly seven unexcused absences before her 16th birthday, both of you could come under court supervision (like probation with conditions such as community service, attending school regularly and reporting in to a probation officer) for some period of time and, as her parent, you could face a misdemeanor charge and/or a fine between $25-$100, up to 30 days of jail and/or community service.

With respect to driving privileges, if your 16-year old has successfully completed an approved driver education class and meets all of the other requirements (aside from age), he can get a class D driver’s license. Class D driver’s licenses are quite restrictive. A class D driver’s license holder may NOT: (1) drive between midnight and 6:00 AM; (2) drive at any time when more than three other passengers in the vehicle who are not members of the driver’s immediate family are less than 21 years old; (3) drive with anyone who is not a member of his family during the 1st six months after obtaining the class D license; (4) drive with anyone who is not a member of his family and who is under the age of 21 during the 2nd six months after obtaining the class D license.

Sixteen also is the age of (sexual) consent.

I just got a speeding ticket and I’m only 17. If I pay the fine, will my license be suspended?

January 29, 2012

It depends.  Since you are under 18, whether your driver’s license will be suspended will depend on how many “points” you have accumulated in a 12-month period.  It will be suspended if you have accumulated 4 or more points in a 12 month period.  Some speeding tickets carry no points (going 14 mph over or less), some carry 2-4 points, and one type (going 34 mph over or more) carries 6 points.

If your license is suspended for too many points, the first suspension will be for 6 months, and the second time it’s suspended for too many points, it will be suspended for 12 months.