Democrats and Republicans in the New Jersey Legislature compromised to keep afloat a bill aimed at expanding education and practice requirements for special learner’s and examination permits. With a few amendments, S3058 was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Thursday, sending it to the full Senate for a vote.

Under the bill, an applicant for a driver’s permit who is under the age of 18 could not earn one until the applicant and a parent or guardian complete a teen driver orientation program. A change to the bill allowed for the program to be completed online; the teenager and parent or guardian would not be required to enter a real classroom.

The program would also be available to, but not required of, older applicants.

The bill would also extend the permit phase from six months to one year for all new drivers, age 16 to 20, before they become eligible for a probationary license.

Those with the permit, during the 12 months, would have to complete at least 50 hours of practice driving, including ten hours completed during hours of darkness, in addition to the currently required six hours of certified driving school instruction. Drivers with an examination permit would be able to complete the requirements or, alternatively, complete 100 hours of certified driving, 20 hours of which would be at night.

State Senator Brian Stack (D), the bill’s primary sponsor, said, “I think it’s a good compromise to what we have. It’s not a perfect piece of legislation, but I really believe it’s the best we can get out right now.”