Steps to getting a Driver License

Getting a driver’s license is a big thing in a person’s life. No longer does one have to ask for rides or take public transportation, but now the freedom to go wherever they want as they please. It can be really exciting, especially if you are sixteen because obtaining your license is one of you first freedoms. It can also be scary if you have a fear of cars. But for most, like me, it is really exciting, as it was something that I wanted badly. Obtaining a driver’s license varies state to state.

I obtained my driver’s license in the state of Rhode Island, which has a very different process than the state of Washington. Therefore, this essay will state the steps to obtain a provisional driver’s license in the state of Rhode Island. Rhode Island requires that one who wishes to drive under eighteen to enroll in the state mandated driver’s education. In Rhode Island, one is allowed to have a driver’s permit at sixteen and then get their license at sixteen and a half. In order to register for these classes, one must be at least fifteen years and ten months of age.

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The driver’s education classes are offered at local colleges and high schools during specific times of the year. They are either offered over six weeks for twice a week classes with the classes being two hours each, or straight six hour classes for five days. I personally choose the five day option during my April vacation. Even though I had to sacrifice my vacation, it was worth it to me. These classes cover every aspect of driving. They explain the basics of driving, how to drive in weather, road signs, how to shift lanes with ease, tips for becoming a better driver, and showed what to do in emergencies.

An instructor appointed by the state runs the class and mainly plays videos and reads out of the Rhode Island driver’s education text book. The instructor will then issue a multitude of quizzes for the students to take. After a weeklong of learning about driver safety and how to drive, you then take the state official exam. This is the written driver’s exam that will allow you to get your permit. In Rhode Island, you must have a driver’s permit for six months before you can obtain a driver’s license.

In order to be eligible for a permit you must get a score of a seventy or higher on written test. After that, on your sixteenth birthday, you are eligible to receive a driver’s permit. On your sixteenth birthday, you can then go to the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles. When applying for your permit at sixteen, you must bring your parent or legal guardian, proof of residency (which is normally a letter or bill to the address where you reside), the certificate of you passing driver’s education, your birth certificate, and your Social Security Card.

Once you get there you then select a ticket and wait until your number is called. This is probably the worst part of the process, because you have to wait at the DMV for what feels like forever. This could be mere minutes or hours. Every time I go I end up waiting about an hour. While you wait, you fill out a form for your driver’s permit with your information which includes weight, height, eye color, hair color, address, and birthday. When your number gets called, you then walk over to the booth and explain to the DMV worker what you are here for.

You then are required to verify the information on the sheet you just filled out with the DMV worker by showing your certificate of completion of driver’s education, proofs of residency, and identification. Once this is done, your take a vision test. This determines whether or not your vision is good enough to drive. If you cannot pass the vision test without glasses, then you must wear your glasses when you drive. I myself have the glasses restriction, as many people do. After that, the DMV takes your photo.

In Rhode Island, you are allowed to smile, but you must take your glasses off (if you wear them) for your picture. After that the DMV issues you your first driver’s permit at the small cost of $6. 50. They will only issue you a paper copy that is valid for one year. Only licenses are plastic in Rhode Island. At that time you set a date test for your road test and it must be six months in advance, as you must have your permit for at least six months before taking the road test. Now that you have your permit, it is time to practice on the real road.

You also must complete at least forty hours of driving, thirty during daylight and ten at night. The permit allows you to drive with anyone who is at least twenty-one and has at least five years driving experience. You must have a permit for at least six months before you can apply for a license and take the road test. These beginner drivers usually drive with their parents, start on the basic streets and work their way up to more challenging streets, like the freeway. Some new drivers also take driving lessons conducted by driving instructors at the American Automobile Association.

However, it is not mandatory as I and many others did not take these road classes. After these six months, you are allowed to take the test. The driver’s test is about a twenty minute test in which you drive around a city (usually Providence), a neighborhood, and regular suburban street. The test costs $35. You must complete a multitude of tasks correctly, such as stopping at a stop sign for five seconds, backing up along a curb, not passing the speed limit, use of directional, parallel parking, and merging lanes.

If there are more than two errors, you fail and will be allowed to retake the test in one month. If you pass, you go inside and are given your first temporary paper license, which is a provisional driver’s license. Your real plastic provisional license then comes in the mail about a week later. This license is valid until your eighteenth birthday, and then you are no longer a provisional driver. The provisional license costs $11. 50.

The provisional license has limitations, which restricts some driving. These restrictions do not allow you to drive between two and six a. m., allow you to only have one passenger under eighteen unless immediate family, and it is illegal to talk on the phone and drive. Now that you have your license, you are a step closer into adulthood and have a piece of your freedom. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and that is why there are many complicated steps to getting one. One must also obey driving laws and speed limits while driving, or then your license can get taken, even forever. Rhode Island is the only state to have ever banned a driver for life, as a judge did so in 2012 to Lyle Topa, a seventeen year old, just days after I received my license.

While this was a complicated process; it was not only well worth it but has worked to my advantage and helped me as a driver. Without all those educational classes, I would not be a good driver and would not know as much as I knew before. The efficiency of the program was terrific, making me the safe driver that I am today. I feel that if more states required these classes that include driver’s safety and not just basic knowledge, there would be better drivers. My generation of drivers from Rhode Island show that, and we are proud.

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