DES MOINES, Iowa -- For hundreds of students in the metro, this fall is the first time they’ve been able to drive themselves to school. Minor school licenses allow students to drive to school but the State Patrol is finding that a growing number of students are taking advantage of the program.
“With school back in session, you’re going to see a lot of young, inexperienced drivers and to keep everyone safe those students need to follow the rules within the program,” said Sgt. Ludwig, Iowa State Patrol. “We only wrote 19 violations for this across the state last year. It’s still a big problem although the stats don’t show it.”
The program has a wide array of rules and stipulations -- you can see the list here. Sgt. Ludwig said the biggest problem for these young drivers is peer pressure.
“The most important part is the hours and who they can or cannot have in the vehicle with them. This is huge violation, between passenger, hours and direct route,” said Ludwig. “A young person is an inexperienced driver and you have passenger(s) it is easy for the driver to get distracted.”
Within the program, there is a lot of room for interpretation and Sgt. Ludwig understands how young drivers can be confused.
“I think the biggest grey area is who can ride in the car,” said Sgt. Ludwig. “The law states, you can’t carry more than one minor passenger that is not a relative when driving without adult supervision. A relative means someone that is your brother, sister, step-brother, step-sister, or another minor living in your household.”
It’s easy to violate one of the laws and the fines are steep. For the first violation, the fines start at $127. Outside of the fines, every time a driver violates the program they have to reset the six month of violation-free driving period required to get their intermediate license.