Some teens wait to get driver’s licenses, others eager to drive

| September 1, 2022 | 0 Comments

For many teens, a 16th birthday no longer means rushing to the DMV as soon as possible to get their driver’s license, as it did for their parents’ generation. The complicated process of acquiring a driver’s license, and the numerous transportation options that teens have, has resulted in more relaxed attitudes toward being able to drive.

BEHIND THE WHEEL is Natalie Bernstein, who has her driver’s license.

In California, a permit must be acquired and held for six months if under 18. This is one of the major reasons teens aren’t getting their licenses right away. Hancock Park resident Natalie Bernstein was at summer camp when she turned 15-and-a-half (the age to be eligible for a permit). Bernstein had to wait until she returned home from camp to study for the “knowledge test.” Formerly known as the “written test,” with the onset of computers, the exam is now taken digitally. The test consists of multiple-choice questions from the driver’s handbook. A score of 80 percent or higher is required to pass and obtain a permit. Because Bernstein waited to get her permit, she didn’t get her license until three months after her 16th birthday.

Similarly to Bernstein, Grant Rodriguez, a former Hancock Park resident, didn’t get his permit until just before his 16th birthday. Rodriguez was busy with school and didn’t have time to study for the test until the summer. Although the test was challenging, Rodriguez obtained his permit and was excited to drive back to Los Angeles in the summer to see his friends.

PERMIT HOLDER Grant Rodriguez smiles in the car with his mom.

On the other hand, Windsor Square resident Reese Duff was eager about the process. Duff was the first of her friends to get her license, and enjoys the freedom that driving gives her. Specifically, Duff likes going to friends’ houses and restaurants without needing to rely on someone else.

For Duff, the most challenging part of obtaining her license was the behind-the- wheel drive test.

During the test, drivers are accompanied by a Department of Motor Vehicles examiner. To pass, students must have no critical driving errors and must have no more than 15 points taken off their score. The drive test can be taken three times before having to reapply.

REESE DUFF stops by the Larchmont Chronicle in her car.

While there are still many teens like Duff who are enthusiastic about being able to drive at 16, many don’t see a point in getting their licenses when they can hop in an Uber or Lyft, or be driven by their family and friends. Many also use public transport, which is free for all Los Angeles Unified School District students. Additionally, because of the busy schedules that teens have during the school year, they often don’t have time to study for the test, pushing back the date that they will be eligible for their license. Lastly, paying for a car, gas and insurance, as well as the minimum six hours of driving lessons, deters many people who don’t believe that driving is worth the cost. Years ago, driving lessons were free for many students in Los Angeles. However, due to budget cuts, most California high schools no longer offer driver’s education, meaning that teens have to pay for lessons.

Written by Abigail Kestenbaum who is a junior at Marlborough and an intern at the Larchmont Chronicle.

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Category: People

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