The state senate has refused to weaken Missouri’s one-year old graduated driver’s license law. The issue became an emotional one during debate.
The law says new drivers cannot drive with an unrelated friend until they have at least six months experience and cannot carry more than one unrelated passenger for the next six months.
St. Joseph Senator Charlie Shields objects to a plan to let those youngsters carpool to school and school events when they cannot ride public school transportation. "This law saves lives," he told the Senate, "and to undo it for the convenience of a few parents because they don’t want to get up in the morning and drive kids to school is wrong."
But the sponsor of last year’s bill, John Griesheimer of Washington, considered Shields’ comments a slap at parents of parochial school children. He called the comments an "insult" and an allegation that parochial school parents are lazy.
Shields said he was not attacking parochial school parents but was, instead, speaking of the dangers young drivers face in a car full of friends. Support came from Senator Chuck Graham of Columbia, a paraplegic since a car crash 26 years ago during a joyride with friends one month after getting his driver’s license.
"The more kids you put in that car, the more likely that stuff is going to happen," he said, speaking from his wheelchair at his Senate desk.
Graham told Senate colleagues, "I’m the kid that was lucky enough not to be buried….and if you can save another kid from ending up where I did or save another kid from being buried because we make something a pain in the butt, make it a pain in the butt."
Griesheimer tried to get a compromise with Shields to let the young drivers just go to and from school, nowhere else. Shields refused, saying, "I don’t think it makes any difference whether a kid dies when he going to a party or a kid dies when he’s going to school.
The Senate turned aside Grisheimer’s proposal, leaving the restrictions in place.
The graduated driver’s license law is explained on the Department of Revenue webpage: