House Bill 320 — Driver’s education

House Bill 320 — Driver’s education

by
Parrish Miller
March 12, 2021
Parrish Miller
March 12, 2021

Bill Description: House Bill 320 will remove mandatory driver's education laws in Idaho, but will also impose more restrictions on young licensed drivers. 

Rating: 0

Does it transfer a function of the private sector to the government? Examples include government ownership or control of any providers of goods or services such as the Land Board’s purchase of a self-storage facility, mandatory emissions testing, or pre-kindergarten. Conversely, does it eliminate a function of government or return a function of government to the private sector?

House Bill 320 repeals and replaces Section 49-307, Idaho Code, and in so doing, removes the language related to a "driver's training course" and the associated fees that go to the state highway account, the county current expense fund, and either a public school or the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses. 

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The replacement language moves to a two-tiered system based on a "Class D instruction permit" and a "Class D intermediate license." The instruction permit is for a 14- or 15-year-old who has passed a written driver's knowledge test and a vision test. This permit only allows a person to drive with a parent or legal guardian. This is problematic because it does not allow a young person to be taught to drive by a grandparent, another relative, or a family friend.

An individual seeking to move up to an intermediate license must be at least 16 years old and have "obtained at least fifty (50) documented hours of supervised driving with one (1) or more parents or legal guardians" and be "crash-free and criminal conviction-free for six (6) months." This language is problematic because "crash" is not defined, and there is no distinction between a crash where the driver was at fault and one where the driver was a victim of someone else's inattention. 

Intermediate licenses carry a host of additional restrictions, including a prohibition against driving "between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., unless accompanied by a licensed driver twenty-one (21) years of age or older." Another prohibition is against driving "with more than one (1) nonfamily passenger under twenty-one (21) years of age, unless accompanied by a licensed driver twenty-one (21) years of age or older."

Under the terms of this chapter, nobody may not acquire a standard Class D driver's license until the age of 17 years old or older. Under current law, a standard Class D driver's license is available to those who are 15 years old or older and who have completed an approved driver's training course. Of particular note is that under this provision, full privileges are granted at 16 years of age. 

Under the revisions in House Bill 320, there is no way for a 16-year-old to obtain a full and unrestricted driver's license. This represents a significant increase of regulatory intrusion into the lives of Idahoans of a specific age. 

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Analyst Note: The primary idea of removing mandatory driver training courses advanced by House Bill 320 is positive, but other details in the bill need to be amended. The following are a few suggestions to improve the bill: 

  • Allow driver training to be offered by any licensed driver twenty-one (21) years of age or older with permission of a parent or legal guardian rather than only by the parent or legal guardian, as allowed under this bill. 
  • Clarify that the requirement to be "crash free" for six months refers to an at-fault vehicle accident. Ideally, there should also be a threshold to define the difference between a serious accident and a single-car encounter with a curb that knocks off a hubcap.
  • While this suggestion may be more controversial, the intermediate license should be scrapped altogether. Once a driver age 16 or older has obtained at least fifty (50) documented hours of supervised driving, been "crash-free" for six months, and passed all the required tests, there is no reason not to issue the driver a standard, unrestricted Class D driver's license. 
View Comments
  • Melissa Hamilton says:

    OMG, you WILL see collisions (what’s with the unprofessional “crashes” word?) rise dramatically. I’ll save this post as proof you were warned. This sounds like you and your friends just want your kids to drive as soon as they want to. This “bill” is so unprofessional and unrealistic, poorly worded, not thought completely through at all. The far reaching ramifications of what you’re attempting to do are juvenile. You’ve done no research in or out of this state, it’s obvious. There are professional methods needed for changes to driving laws for the safety of the public. I dont want me or mine at risk so your kid can drive after a lesson with grandpa, or an18 year old idiot has been deemed good enough by your foundation. Right now there is uniformity in Idaho Driver Education, the public can expect a basic level of ability out on the road. What you’re trying to do will only turn out very badly.

    • Bonnie Voves says:

      This law raises the current driver’s license age from 15 to 16. It also matches the current law in parental driving hours. It also allows for two years of driving practice instead of the current six months. The only thing it changes other than that is it requires a child to learn the DMV manual and pass the written knowledge test before they obtain a learner’s permit.

      Driver’s ed classes might help a student learn to pass the state exam but it does NOT prepare them for driving alone or make them any safer on the road.

      I would be more than happy to discuss actual specifics of the bill but you haven’t provided any.

    • Bonnie Voves says:

      Additionally, “crash” is the language used in current code. That much was not changed.

      You seem to be under the impression that Idaho Freedom
      Foundation prepared and is bringing forth this bill. They are merely summarizing and rating the bill.

      The bill actually doesn’t change very much from the current law. It merely repeals the *mandatory* driver’s education classes. They are currently unaffordable ($250-450 per child) and unobtainable for many kids who are of driving age.

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