What's Your 'Getting Your Driver's License' Story?

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Photo: Jason Torchnisky

Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage in the U.S., and while young folks are putting it off more and more, there are still plenty of places in America where you absolutely need a car to get around. The rules around getting a license vary from place to place, so we were wondering: How easy (or hard) was it for you to earn that shiny piece of laminated plastic?


In my Driver’s Ed class there was a guy who drove himself to class every day for a week, admitting that he had been driving around license-free since he was 14 or so. He explained that if you don’t drive like an idiot, you won’t get caught. Our instructor pretty much just checked all the boxes for him and sent him on his way.

I (to my ever lasting shame) had to take my license test twice. I was 16, and a nervous wreck, so when I saw the line of cars ahead of me turning left at a blinking red without stopping, I followed suit. My tester then let me know that I had just ran a red light, an automatic fail. I did pull perfect parallel parking scores on both of my tests, thus redeeming myself in the eyes of my father, who was not thrilled to have to shell out another $80 for me to retake the test.

On the other hand, our own Mercedes recounted walking into the DMV with basically a pilot’s logbook of entries. In the nine months she had a permit, she drove 475 hours, 170 of them at night. She proudly handed over the proof of her efforts the DMV lady, who immediately tossed it all into the trash without even looking.

So how about you? Did you send it while your instructor gripped the “oh shit” handle but still gave you a solid score? Did you barely have to show up to Driver’s Ed before you were on the road?



So, I took private lessons from a guy that had worked in driver’s testing for decades before retiring. He took me on the exact route they used for 30 years. We drove it day after day and he pointed out every single thing they would gig me on. So I was ready.


* tester told me to take a different route, so I started to panic.
* Didn’t know the route, so I matched speeds with others. 45 in a 35. Crap.
* Got to my first green light (which had just turned green) and started going straight across.
*Redlight runner going 60+ appeared just as I started across the intersection. I hit the brakes and swerved right.
* Backend stepped out and I ended up balls sideways. I gunned the engine and did a full on dirt track slide. I have no idea how I didn’t get hit or hit anything during the skid.

Tester yelled at me to pull into the testing center. I had driven less than 2 minutes of a test that is supposed to take 30. We got out of the car and the tester staggered inside to finish something while I staggered around shaking. My dad saw the entire thing and just stood there with his mouth wide open.

A couple minutes later, the tester came out and gave me my license. Talked to my dad and told him that any driver that could avoid that accident deserved a license.