From Legs to Wheels

Whizzing by in the driver's seat to show off their newly acquired licenses and permits, more and more juniors and seniors begin to move onto the next exciting level of the teenage years as the second semester rolls in: the evolution from legs to wheels. Evident in the increase of school parking lot traffic, many students count down the days till the exact moment that they are legally able to jump to the wheel."I started driving legally when I was 15 1/2," said junior Luis Herrera. "I wanted to start driving in high school as early as possible because you can get to school at your own time, and you can leave after school when you want." The process of acquiring a license may begin exactly six months after a student turns 15. If under 18, the student must take certain driving classes before obtaining a permit, either at a driving school or online. The most popular place for Driver's Education amongst the student body is Pacific Driving School, located in Bell Gardens, while many students also take the classes online with the AP Driving School. Following the completion of these classes, the student can go to a nearby DMV and take the written permit test. It is only after six months with a permit that a minor can return to the DMV to take the behind-the-wheel test to officially receive the golden badge of legalized driving. However, reaching the 16-year-old breach mark doesn't ensure full freedom with driving. Effective as of 2006, a revision in the Brady-Jared Teen Driver Safety Act stated that a minor, for the first 12 months of acquiring a driver's license, cannot transport passengers under 20 at any time, and cannot drive at all between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Previous to 2006, these rules applied for only the first six months of the driver's license, not an entire year. This limited license is referred to as a provisional license, and since day one has caused complaints among students and even parents, and has ultimately led to disregard for the law. "I think the age limit of 16 is a good standard, but I do not agree with the law of having to wait an entire year to drive anyone that is under 20 years old," said junior Heather Adamson, a recent acquirer of her driver's license. "This is an unrealistic amount of time, and I think 6 months is better." Similarly, many other students agreed and shared the same viewpoints as Adamson. A common argument amongst various students, with and without licenses, was 'what good is a license if you can't drive around with your friends?' "The age limit of 16 years old is definitely good, but one should be able to get an official license, not a provisional one, at the age of 16," said Herrera. Although it may seem that students are arguing from only their own perspective and may have a biased view on this law, even parents were grumbling about the extension to the age limit restrictions, particularly one that is so hard to regulate. "I forced my son to comply with the provisional license rule for the first six months," said a teacher and parent who wished to remain anonymous. "But when the new revision stated that he had to wait another six months, I told him you know what, go ahead and drive around with your friends, just don't get caught! Plus, how is any parent supposed to regulate such a law, they could just go pick up their friends when they're out and the parents would have no clue."

********** Published: March 5, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 46