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New year, new laws: Teen drivers required to log more practice time

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Quick, parents: What would be a really fun way to start 2015?

How about 50 hours in the car with your unlicensed teen at the wheel?

The new year brings new laws that take effect Jan. 1 in the state of Minnesota, including one aimed at better preparing teens for driving.

Specifically, the new law – among the toughest in the nation on new teen drivers – says that before a teen can get a license, an adult must first keep a practice log that documents 50 hours they spent in the car with the teen at the wheel. At least 15 of those hours must be from practice driving at night. (The adult can knock that 50-hour requirement down to 40 hours by first attending a special training class).

The previous rule only required 30 hours of behind-the-wheel practice.

"As long as teens continue to be over-represented in traffic crashes, we have a call to do something about it," Department of Public Safety's traffic safety coordinator Gordy Pehrson told MPR News. "And involving, engaging and empowering parents to do something is what its all about."

Other new laws that take effect Jan. 1:

– Aimed in part at alleviating a shortage of primary care providers in underserved areas, new legislation gives nurses who have completed a masters- or doctoral-level program more autonomous authority in writing prescriptions – so doctors don't have to constantly approve their decisions, WCCO notes. Seventeen other states have similar laws, the University of Minnesota School of Nursing noted.

– A new law will require all lifeguards at public beaches to be trained in CPR and first aid, a requirement that had previously only applied to pool lifeguards. The law was named for Tony Caine, a 6-year-old boy who drowned in a lake in the district of bill sponsor Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley.

– A new law allows people with relatively minor criminal records, including misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies, to ask a judge to have the records sealed. The legislation is aimed at helping people who have long since turned their lives around but are still dogged in their job searches by old criminal histories, KARE 11 notes.

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