On February 9th, our daughter Valerie celebrated having her driver’s license for one year. As a parent, this is one of those good news / bad news moments.
In case you aren’t familiar with the rules regarding teenage drivers, the DMV issues a provisional driver license that has certain restrictions.
For the first year that a teenager has their license or until they turn 18, they can’t transport anyone under the age of 20 unless there is a licensed driver over the age of 25 also in the car. What this meant for us is that Valerie couldn’t drive her younger sister to school or give her friends rides to anywhere.
(Yes, I know parents often allow their teenagers to drive siblings to school saying that if the teenage driver has a note showing that the parents have given them permission, it’s ok. I did a little research and according to the DMV website, the intent of the law is that teens are only permitted to drive siblings if mom and dad are in an accident and are declared brain dead and you have a note signed by a doctor…ok, I’m exaggerating. But the DMV’s point is that driving a sibling is only to be used in definite emergencies, not just for the convenience of the parents.)
The second restriction for the first 12 months is that the teen driver cannot drive between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am. This meant that at 11:01, I would hear the garage door opening and I could go to sleep knowing that Valerie was home safely.
So now that these restrictions no longer apply, the good news is that Valerie has a lot more freedom about who she can drive and when she can drive them. I love it that she can drive her eighth grade sister to school most mornings or pick her up if Steve or I can’t get there. It’s really great to have another chauffeur in the house.
And it takes the pressure off of Valerie if she is at a friend’s house and at 11:00 there’s still 15 minutes to go until the end of the movie they’re watching. She can stay until the party is really over.
However, the restrictions that were in place for that first year of driving – no other teenagers in the car and home by 11:00 – gave me a certain amount of security because I knew she was driving without the added distraction of having someone else in the car and I knew exactly when she would be home.
Watching your daughter pull out of the garage and drive down the hill on their own for the first time really tells a parent that you’re not in control of your child’s life anymore.
But watching her drive away with another teenager in the car and the opportunity to stay out late…let me insert here that Valerie is a very responsible girl…I’m still going to double up on my prayers.