What is Vanessa’s Law?

Minnesota drivers, especially those who have received a license in the past 10 years, may have heard of Vanessa’s Law. This is a state law that went into effect in 2004 and applies to drivers under the age 18.

Vanessa’s Law takes its name from a 15-year-old girl who died in a traffic accident in 2003. At the time of the accident, she was a passenger in a car driven by another 15-year-old who did not have a driver’s license. The details of the accident were considered so tragic that the legislature decided to name a traffic safety law in her memory.

Under the provisions of Vanessa’s Law, unlicensed Minnesota drivers under age 18 who are found in violation of driving while intoxicated on alcohol or drugs are barred from receiving a driver’s license until after they reach age 18. Once they are legally adults, they must go through special procedures before they can receive a license. Among other requirements, they must obtain an instruction permit and hold it for at least three months before they can be instated as a fully licensed driver. They must also pay reinstatement fees that can total as much as $680.

The law also provides restrictions on teenage drivers who had a provisional license revoked due to a traffic accident or violation related to drugs or alcohol.

Vanessa’s Law and laws like it are designed to encourage drivers to be more careful. Sadly, they don’t always succeed. After a negligent driver injures someone in a traffic accident, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the criminal justice system do their part to keep negligent drivers off the road, but they don’t necessarily help victims of traffic accidents to recover medical expenses and other damages from the accident. That’s where personal injury lawsuits can help.

Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Driver and Vehicle Services, “Understanding Minnesota Traffic Law for Drivers Under Age 18,” accessed on Sept. 12, 2014