Drivers Ed in Hawaii
Completion of a Hawaii Drivers Ed course is suggested and often required prior to obtaining your learner's permit, and ultimately receiving your Driver's License. Although not approved for the state of Hawaii, I Drive Safely is a good course to prepare yourself for your state's licensing exam.
Momona 'Umi Kumaono (Sweet 16) no longer means heading down to the local driver's license office with all your other "of age" friends and getting your driver's license just after blowing out the candles. But it still is possible, if you have taken the right steps and completed the prerequisites, to have a license at 16 and fulfill the traditional rite of passage.
There are just a few catches―the first being that the license will have the phrase "provisional" attached to it. Plus, there are also a battery of restrictions that come with it until you are able to become an official member of the full-privilege driving club. The first opportunity for that to happen is at age 17.
This is all part of the state's graduated licensing program. The program, coupled with an earlier mandatory driver education law, is designed to put a dent in the rather disconcerting accident statistics plaguing young drivers.
The program has three tiers that an applicant must attain, with the last being a standard driver's license will full privileges.
The first stage of the graduated licensing system is heavy on skill building. The major difference between the new permit in this program and the old one is the age requirement. It has been pushed back from 15 years old to 15 and six months.
That does not mean you can't enroll in a driver education course at 15; that is still an option, considering these courses only take place in the classroom. But to move on to the next phase of training, which occurs behind the wheel, you will need an instruction permit. And for this, you need to be 15-and-a-half. The permit is valid for one year, with an option of being renewed one time 30 days before and up to 90 days after the expiration date.
How to Get an Instruction Permit
- You must present a birth certificate and a Social Security card.
- You must be age 15 and six months when applying.
- Your parents (or legal guardians) must be present, show their ID, and sign at the time you apply.
- You must pass a vision exam.
- You must pass the written and road sign identification tests. If you have yet to sign up for a driver education course and want a permit before doing so, the best place to glean what information is on the test is by purchasing or downloading a Hawaii Driver's Manual. It is available at all license field offices (see locations below) and at area bookstores.
After You Get Your Permit
- If you had not already completed your 30 hours of classroom driver education before getting your permit, you will need to do so at this point.
- Enroll in a Department of Transportation-approved course that provides a minimum of six hours behind-the-wheel training. The other option here is to sign up for a simulator driving class that offers a minimum of two hours of actual on-road schooling with you in the driver's seat.
- During this intensive preparation period, you must also log a minimum of 50 hours of real drive time, with 10 of these hours coming at night. The hours must be verified by your parent or guardian, and your driving log must be presented to a licensing examiner at the time you upgrade the permit to a provisional license.
Being only a learner's permit and not an actual license to drive on your own, the instruction permit has a few limitations:
- You must be supervised at all times by someone in the passenger seat who holds a valid driver's license and is at least 21 years old.
- If you are on the road between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., the only person who can be in the passenger seat is a parent or guardian.
- You must hold your learner's permit for 180 days before signing up to take the road test.
Step two in the graduated licensing process allows the minor driver to slowly take on more responsibilities. In this case, one of the major elements involves freedom: You will now be able to operate a vehicle without the presence of a parent or another licensed driver over the age of 21.
Attaining a provisional license is the most labor-intensive of the three rungs in the graduated system, because you have to do all the training first. It also has the most requirements and restrictions.
Before you can even consider applying to upgrade your instruction permit to a provisional license, you must be of the proper age―that is 16, the traditional driving age. It still is the driving age in Hawaii, but with the new laws in place, you just need to endure a bit more training and observation after this point.
A provisional license must be switched to a full license by the time you turn 19. Failure to do so will mean you need to reapply for a regular driver's license (i.e. fill out another form, go to the licensing office, pay the fees, and take the tests).
How to Get a Provisional License
- Hold an instruction permit for a minimum of 180 days.
- Present a certificate of completion for both the driver education and behind-the-wheel courses.
- Take and pass the road test.
- Only one passenger under the age of 18 can accompany you in the car. This restriction does not apply if a parent or guardian is also in the car, or the minors in the car live in the same house as you (i.e. your siblings).
- The nighttime restriction still applies. Thus, you cannot drive without a licensed parent or guardian between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. However, under the provisional license, there are a few exceptions: work and school. The former requires a written document from your employer, and it must be in the car with you; the latter requires a form signed by your parent or guardian.
- Any traffic citations received during this stage will result in your license being suspended or possibly revoked for up to one year.
The final stage in the graduated licensing program is the real deal. The photo document may be vertical, an orientation assigned to all drivers under 21, but it has all the benefits of a standard license.
Until you have reached the age of 17, however, you will need to hold onto the provisional license. If you are 17 and have had the provisional license for a minimum of six months without receiving any traffic tickets, you are eligible to turn that license in for a license with full privileges.
The fees to apply for an instruction permit, take the written and road tests, and receive a driver's license vary from county to county, so check with your local licensing office (see below) to find out how much you can expect to pay for the entire process.Local Drivers Education
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