15-year-olds can get learner’s permit without driver’s ed

Monday, April 5, 2021

HELENA (AP) — Montana is starting a temporary program to allow 15-year-olds to get a learner’s permit without having to take a driver’s education class, Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced Friday.

About 22,000 students are waiting to enroll in driver’s education, but courses are limited due to COVID-19-related restrictions and a shortage of driving instructors, Knudsen said.

“Too many families are having to wait for more than a year until their son or daughter can get into a drivers ed class,” Knudsen said in a statement. ”We’re getting bureaucracy out of the way so Montana teenagers can get back on track, start learning to drive safely and save their families money.”

Under current law, teens who don’t complete a driver’s education course have to wait until they are 16 to get a learner’s permit.

Under this temporary program, 15-year-olds can take the written exam and receive a learner’s permit. Then over the next six months they will have to complete 50 hours of driving with a parent or other responsible adult, including 10 hours of nighttime driving, before taking the driving skills test with the Motor Vehicle Division.

Students who pass the driving test will receive a graduated driver’s license, which limits the number of passengers they can have and limits nighttime driving.

The agency hasn’t determined how long the temporary program will be in effect.