South Carolina teens could soon get driver’s licenses without road tests

VIDEO: State may waive road test requirement for teens

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles is now considering waiving the final road test for teens during the pandemic, one driving school owner claims.

“My understanding is that they would still have to complete the training but would not have to do the final road test," Christi Warthan said. She runs 843 Let’s Drive in Summerville.

“It’s the last line of defense to know whether or not the students are truly ready," she said. "I have a lot of students who come through our program, and we spend as much time as possible, often more than six hours, and they’re still not ready. There has to be some other testimony to make sure they’re ready, and that test is it.”

Right now, the road test is the final requirement a student driver must pass in order to get their license, and so far, the DMVs in Georgia and Wisconsin have decided to waive it during the pandemic.

“The SCDMV is exploring every option available to get customers processed as safely as possible,” SCDMV spokesperson Julie Roy said. “While road tests are still currently suspended, we hope to lift that as soon as possible and get our 235 licensed examiners back to work.”

Shari Sebuck lives in Mount Pleasant. Her teenage son is wrapping up his required driving hours and is getting ready to take his road test. She said she doesn’t understand why they would eliminate that final step.

“I think it’s unconsciously irresponsible, and I’m not going to be popular with my teenage son nor other teenagers,” Sebuck said. “The test is part of a graduated system that we have with our graduated license, and it’s the final phase of a certification process. I don’t think we’d get on an airplane without knowing that pilot was certified, so I don’t understand why we would turn what is really an exciting right of passage for these teenagers to get their license into a great potential death sentence.”

Warthan agreed and argued a decision to waive the road test could be fatal.

“They are at highest risk of a fatal collision the first year they are a licensed driver than any other point in their entire life. That is a statistic from the National Safety Council," she said. “We have to be the adults in this situation. If teens are pushing and are anxious because they want their license, I understand that. We all did at 15 and 16, but as the adults of this state we have to make a better, smarter decision than Georgia and Wisconsin did.”

No decision on this potential change has yet been announced by the SCDMV.

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