Getting a learner's permit is a big step for a teen. After all, it puts them on the road to more freedom and some adult-level responsibilities.
As a parent, it's a big step for you, too. There are lots of emotions to face, one of which might actually be excitement.
After years of playing chauffeur to get your kids to soccer practice and piano lessons, you can finally free up some slots on your schedule as your teen is able to get themselves to school — right?
Not so fast. In Texas, there are limitations on learner's permits. Here's what you need to know.
Can a Teen Drive Themselves to School With a Texas Learner's Permit?
Unfortunately, your teen can't drive by themselves with a Texas learner's permit. The law states that teens with a permit must have a licensed adult 21 years of age or older in the front passenger seat when they're behind the wheel.
That means your teen cannot drive themselves to school or other activities by themselves until they get their full license. If you're counting the days, here are some other rules to be aware of to help your teen get their license in a timely manner:
Teens must be at least 15 to get their permit.
Teens must stay enrolled in school (or home school) while using their permit.
Teens must hold a learner's permit for at least six months before taking the road test.
If their permit is suspended, the number of days of the suspension is added to the six-month waiting period.
Once your teen passes their road test to get their provisional license, they may be able to drive themselves to school, but not to late-night events. Provisional licenses restrict drivers under 18 from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. and from having more than one underage passenger at a time.
How to Drive to School With a Permit
If your teen wants to drive to school with their permit, they can't do it alone. However, there are a few workarounds that could let them practice (and show off for their friends) while still obeying the law and staying safe. Consider these options:
Tag team: A parent can sit in the passenger's seat while the teen drives to school. You can then shift into the driver's seat and continue on to work.
Sibling sitting: An older sibling can volunteer to sit in the passenger's seat on the way to school, provided they are over 21 and have their license.
Carpool: If you have a relative or neighbor who works near your teen's school, consider setting up a carpool where your teen drives and the other adult supervises.
If none of these options works for your family, the best option might be to support the learning process so your teen can graduate from the learner's permit to the provisional license. Having this license will allow them to drive to school independently.
How can you support the learning process? This can include making sure your teen completes all of the required hours of driver education (which is usually around 32) and that they get the required number of supervised practice hours behind the wheel. This includes seven hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, seven hours of in-car observation, and 30 hours of general driving practice, 10 of which must be at night.
Get One Step Closer to Driving to School by Completing Driver's Ed
Ready to help your Texas teen learn to be a safe and confident driver? Check out online driver's ed for teens at DriversEd.com, which will get your teen prepped with a learner's permit after their first six hours of coursework.