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

Illustration for article titled What's Your 'Getting Your Driver's License' Story?
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?

Managing Editor of Jalopnik.


I live in NY, and at the time if you had your license as a teen you either needed to be on a parent’s insurance or have your own car and insurance. My mom didn’t drive (still doesn’t) and my stepfather said I could never drive his car. I went ahead and got my permit so I could take driver’s ed in summer school that’s only when it was offer by the school district.

My aunt took me to get my permit, I aced the written. She asked me if I wanted to drive home. I got behind the wheel, looked at her and said “Okay, what do I do?” She didn’t let me drive home, but she let me use her car for my driving test.

I had my money saved, got my license and car at 18. A few months later, my stepfather is working on his car, comes to me and says “Give me your keys, I need to go to the auto store.” I said “No, you can’t drive my car.” He flipped out, my mom said “Hey, fair is fair. You said he can’t drive yours, he doesn’t have to let you drive his.”

He got me back, though. Our driveway was one car wide, so he’d park me in whenever he could. I ended up parking at my aunt and uncle’s a block away, giving them a spare key if they needed to move it for any reason. Sometimes my aunt would take it to the store if my uncle wasn’t home, it would piss my stepfather off to see her driving it.