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Letter to the Editor

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Dear Readers,

I want to make you aware of an unfair situation as a result of the shutdown related to the COVID outbreak. Young adults were unable to obtain their learner’s permit until sometimes several months after they turned 15. This means that these soon to be voters will have to wait several months after turning 16 to get their driver’s license due to no fault of their own. So to help new teen drivers unfairly affected by COVID- 19 regulations I have created a petition. 


Also, last month I wrote letters to both Blaise Ingoglia and Wilton Simpson but they said there was nothing they could really do to help me since it would mean they’d have to change the law. However, Wilton Simpson did say he would send my letter to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Tallahassee. In response, the Department of Motor Vehicles told me that people who are under 18 are required to have their learner’s permit for a year before being able to obtain a driver’s license. I understand the importance of the laws that have been put in place to protect all road users. But my fellow young adults have been waiting their whole life for the privilege of being able to drive and they should be given the same opportunity as everyone else at getting their driver’s license on time. 


If you are over 18 you do not have to wait a year to get a driver’s license because you don’t need a learner’s permit first. Individuals or teens mature at different rates depending on a variety of factors. It seems like an arbitrary line to draw. 


This affected me personally as the DMV and tax collector in Hernando county were closed for learner’s permits. The DMV was issuing and renewing driver licenses but were not providing learner’s permits. Eventually, I was able to go to Pasco to obtain my permit when their clerk’s office opened. I had already taken a driver’s ed course online finishing with a 95% final grade and I had taken the learner’s permit test online too. All I needed was to get my picture taken and pass a vision and hearing test to get my permit. But I was not even able to get an appointment.  

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This is unfair because the DMV allowed drivers to renew their driver’s license or to get a one. However, I was not able to get an appointment for a learner’s permit. It may seem like an insignificant matter, but I have been waiting my whole life to learn to drive. The thrill of gaining a little independence and freedom is intoxicating. When you were 16 weren’t you excited to finally be free? You were now able to uncover the wonders of the world without being held back. (Within the parameters of the law obviously.) Learning to drive is a major milestone. My grandmother once told me, “First you learn to walk, then you learn to swim, and last you learn to drive.”  


Due to COVID- 19 many households have reduced incomes and need their teens to work. But teens can not work because they can not get to work and their parents do not have time to drive them. I have three siblings, my mother is an entrepreneur, and my father works full time in Tampa so I need a driver’s license to do the things my parents are too busy to do, such as grocery shopping, taking my siblings to their extracurricular activities, and running errands. This is the same for many families. 


In some states, including Indiana, Arizona, California, Iowa, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky permit holders between the ages 15 and a half and 18 are allowed to drive to and from school or work with a permit, but without a supervising driver. 


Please sign my petition now to help new teen drivers who were unfairly affected by COVID-19 regulations. 


To sign this petition go to https://www.standunited.org/petition/help-new-teen-drivers-unfairly-affected-by-covid-19-regulations


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