Back when I was a teen getting a driver's license was pretty simple. We enrolled in driver's education offered in public schools and at the end of the course we took an exam and upon passing were eligible for a learner's permit. The permit was obtained at the local DMV where you fill out an application and maybe showed them your birth certificate (if you even had one). You had to be 15 1/2 years old to get this permit and then your parents would take you out and teach you how to drive. You didn't log your hours on the road. It wasn't that formal. We just drove with adults until turning 16, at which point we could go get our actual driver's license. There wasn't a lot of regulation to it.
Well, times have changed. Today it's quite different than that. My daughter recently went through the process, so it's fresh in my mind. Allow me to enlighten you about obtaining a Colorado driver's permit and license today.
Start with Driver's Education
First, driver's education is no longer offered in the public schools. So you have to find a private driving school and enroll them in it. In Colorado Springs we have many options for schools like Academy School of Driving, 1st Drive or Master Drive. I opted for Master Drive since they have a great reputation here. The student must be at least 14 years old in order to enroll. They must take 30 hours of classroom training. Additional behind-the-wheel training is available through each school but is not mandatory. Upon completion of the 30-hour class, the student takes a written exam, but he can only do that after turning 15. This exam can be taken at the driving school or at the local DMV. In order to pass the exam, the student cannot miss more than five answers. Otherwise, they must re-take the exam. After passing the student can now apply for a learner's permit.
Obtain the Learner's Permit
In order to get the permit the student must meet the following requirements:
1. They must be at least 15 years of age
2. They must show proof of 30 hours of driver training school
3. They must show proof that they passed the written exam or be prepared to take the exam at the DMV
4. They must have a valid birth certificate
5. They must have a valid social security card
6. They must show two written proofs of their current Colorado address (which I found a bit challenging because my 15-year-old doesn't receive a lot of official mail at the house yet)
7. They/you must pay a fee of $17
8. They must have a parent or guardian with them at the time of application so that person can sign as the responsible party for the minor behind the wheel (basically, if your kid crashes and does any harm or damage to another it's your liability).
Once you've done all this the applicant is issued their learner's permit. The student driver must have that permit for one year before they can obtain an actual driver's license. During that year the student driver must log at least 50 hours behind the wheel with an adult who is at least 21 years old. Those driving hours are written on a form provided by the DMV, and that form must be signed by the parent or guardian.
Finally the Driver's License
After the year is up and the student driver has logged the required hours, they can then go to the DMV and get their driver's license. There they will have to pass a written exam and actual evaluation behind the wheel.
I know it sounds like a lot to go through, and at first, I was slightly overwhelmed by the regulation involved here. But I have concluded that it's all good. Requiring kids to spend more time learning how to drive is a plus, not only for their own safety but for the safety of all drivers on the road. Requiring more documentation at the time of application is a plus because driving is a privilege for US residents, and proving proof is a small price to pay. And requiring kids to drive for at least one year before obtaining a license is a plus because it's more supervised time behind the wheel. Thank you, Colorado, for holding us to this higher standard!