Drivers must be 15 to get permit |

Drivers must be 15 to get permit

Teenagers hoping to get their learner’s permits may have to wait longer than expected.

Beginning July 1, applicants must be 15 years old and enrolled, participating and attending an approved driver’s education class to attain a Colorado Temporary Instruction Permit.

There are no exceptions, local instructor Jerry Buelter said.

The next driver’s education class is Saturday.

“It doesn’t get publicized very well,” Buelter said of the changes at the state level.

At the time House Bill 1107 was passed, local instructors were told they could allow 14 year olds to take driver’s education during a transition period into the new law.

But the “grandfathering and transition” period, which was supposed to last until Sept. 1, came to an abrupt end last month because of a legal interpretation by the Department of Motor Vehicles, Buelter said.

He had been allowing teenagers who were 14 years and 9 months to take driver’s education.

“The confusion is because throughout the school year we were telling kids if you turned 15 in June, sign up in June,” Buelter said. “If you turn 15 in July, sign up in July. On Aug. 12, I will meet and have kids who turn 15 on Aug. 20. I know it. Even if they came on the 12th, I would have to explain to them because of the state law passed July 1, you must be 15 to take this class. It stinks if your birthday is Aug.13 and you have to wait.”

Driver’s education classes are offered every month.

In order to get a driver’s license, teenagers must hold a learner’s permit for one year. If a teenager doesn’t obtain a learner’s permit until he or she is 15 1/2 or 16, he or she will have to wait one calendar year before being eligible for a driver’s license.

“The one thing I like about the new law is it forces kids to practice,” Buelter said. “You have to log in so many hours and it makes a huge difference. These kids are much better drivers.”

A learner’s permit allows a teenage driver to be behind the wheel with an instructor or a parent for the first six months. The final six months, a driver can be with another adult 21 and older.

The Division of Motor Vehicles apologized for any inconveniences the new law may cause to Colorado residents, but the interpretation of the statue language prompted them to make an immediate change.

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