1997 Regular Session
By: Representative Holland
House Bill 707
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 63-1-9 AND 63-1-10, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE AN EXCEPTION TO THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENT FOR A DRIVER'S LICENSE BASED ON THE RELIGIOUS BELIEF OF THE APPLICANT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 63-1-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-1-9. (1) No license shall be issued pursuant to this article:
(a) To any person under the age of sixteen (16) years except as provided in subsection (2) of this section.
(b) To any person whose license to operate a motor vehicle on the highways of Mississippi has been previously revoked or suspended * * * and such revocation or suspension period has not expired.
(c) To any person who is an habitual drunkard or who is addicted to the use of other narcotic drugs.
(d) To any person who would not be able by reason of physical or mental disability, in the opinion of the commissioner or other person authorized to grant an operator's license, to operate a motor vehicle on the highways with safety. However, persons who have one (1) arm or leg, or have arms or legs deformed, and have their car provided with mechanical devices whereby they are able to drive in a safe manner over the highways, if otherwise qualified, shall receive an operator's license the same as other persons. Moreover, deafness shall not be a bar to obtaining a license.
(e) To any person who is under the age of seventeen (17) years to drive any motor vehicle while in use as a school bus for the transportation of pupils to or from school, or to drive any motor vehicle while in use as a public or common carrier of persons or property.
(f) To any person as an operator who has previously been adjudged to be afflicted with and suffering from any mental disability and who has not at time of application been restored to mental competency.
(g) To any unmarried person under the age of eighteen (18) years who does not at the time of application present a diploma or other certificate of high school graduation or a general education development certificate issued to the person in this state or any other state, or documentation that the person:
(i) Is enrolled and making satisfactory progress in a course leading to a general education development certificate;
(ii) Is enrolled in school in this state or any other state;
(iii) Is enrolled in a "nonpublic school," as such term is defined in Section 37-13-91(2)(i); * * *
(iv) Is unable to attend any school program due to circumstances deemed acceptable as set out in Section 63-1-10; or
(v) Is not attending school due to religious belief as set out in Section 63-1-10.
(h) To any person under the age of eighteen (18) years who has been convicted under Section 63-11-30.
(2) Upon meeting all other state requirements for licensure, a minor who is a resident of this state and who is fifteen (15) years of age may apply for and be issued a driver's license if:
(a) He presents to the Department of Public Safety, at the time of application, documentation satisfactory to the Commissioner of Public Safety that the minor resides with a physically impaired parent whose physical impairment prevents the parent from securing a driver's license; or
(b) He presents to the Department of Public Safety, at the time of application, on a form prepared by and approved by the Commissioner of Public Safety, an affidavit signed by a parent or guardian of the minor and by the employer of the minor, with each signature being witnessed and acknowledged by a notary public or other person authorized under the laws of this state to administer oaths, stating that the minor is gainfully employed and, in order to avoid a severe hardship, needs to be authorized to drive a vehicle in order to retain his employment.
(3) A driver's license issued under paragraph (2)(b) of this section shall be restricted for use between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. It shall be unlawful for any minor who is issued a driver's license under paragraph (2)(b) of this section to operate a motor vehicle between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
SECTION 2. Section 63-1-10, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-1-10. (1) Any applicant for a license under eighteen (18) years of age must submit with the application documentation from the appropriate authority that the applicant is in compliance with Section 63-1-9(g). The appropriate authority shall be the school principal of a public or private school or his designee, or, in the case of a home study program, the parent, or the adult education supervisor of the General Education Development Program or his designee. Documentation of the applicant's enrollment status shall be on a form designed by the Department of Education as approved by the Department of Public Safety in a manner that insures the authenticity of the form and any information or signature contained thereon. Any student who is eligible to apply for a license and who is properly enrolled in a school under the jurisdiction of the authority is entitled to receive the documentation for presentation to the Department of Public Safety to accompany the application. The forms required under this section to provide documentation shall be made available to public schools, private schools approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and adult education supervisors at school board offices and shall be made available to others through the Department of Public Safety.
(2) Whenever an applicant who is under eighteen (18) years of age is unable to attend any school program due to acceptable circumstances, the appropriate authority where the student last attended shall provide the student with documentation to present to the department to excuse such student from the provisions of Section 63-1-9(g). The appropriate authority shall be the sole judge of whether withdrawal of a student or failure of a student to attend is due to acceptable circumstances. Failure to attend school due to bona fide religious belief is an acceptable circumstance. Suspension or expulsion from school or incarceration in a correctional institution is not an acceptable circumstance for a person being unable to attend school.
(3) Any person denied a license for failure to satisfy the education requirements of Section 63-1-9(g) shall have the right to file a request within thirty (30) days thereafter for a hearing before the Department of Public Safety to determine whether the person is entitled to a license or is subject to the cancellation of his license under the provisions of this section. The hearing shall be held within ten (10) days of the receipt by the department of the request. Appeal from the decision of the department may be taken under Section 63-1-31.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.