Teens and driving: It’s about time | NevadaAppeal.com

Teens and driving: It’s about time

It’s about time.

Nevada’s teenagers are quickly discovering that obtaining a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right.

Effective Jan. 1 in the Silver State, a bill passed by the 2013 Legislature now ties school attendance into a teen’s ability to apply for and hold a license to drive a motor vehicle while attending school. The law, though, does not apply to teens 18-years of age and older.

Like any law directed toward residents, this one will only apply to a small fraction of teens who abuse the system by skipping school. It’s very fitting since Nevada has one of the lowest graduation rates and one of the highest truancy rates in the country.

Truancies, therefore, forced lawmakers to play their hand at the poker table, and the students lost.

Face it, no employer will tolerate an employee who misses an excessive number of days or skips a shift without cause. In the real world, an employer may fire an employee who is not reliable or doesn’t call in when absent.

For example, during the 2013-14 school year, Clark County recorded 120,000 truancies, prompting State Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, to say students must have an incentive to stay in school, and to do so, their license will be connected to their attendance rates.

Said Clark County Assistant Superintendent Tammy Malich, “We’re looking forward to any initiative that encourages kids to attend school because if they are not in school, it makes it very difficult for them to pass classes and then graduate.”

According to Senate Bill 269, students under the age 18 who are requesting an instruction permit or license must present proof they are regularly attending classes in compliance with Nevada Revised Statutes 392 unless they are exempt.

Students who obtain three unexcused absences in a school year are considered habitual truants in Nevada. Of course, the law gives parents the opportunity to appeal sanctions to the school district.

If teenagers feel skipping school is more important than driving, then they can reintroduce themselves to a good pair of walking shoes, hitch a ride with friends, inconvenience their parents for a ride or — heaven forbid — board a school bus.

If the truancies become too extreme, then the student must repeat every step to obtain another driver’s license including taking the driving test.

While the majority of Nevadans favor this law, there are those, sadly, who feel driving and education don’t mix. To them, driving is an entitlement. Unfortunately, that’s life, though, and if teens go to school and don’t skip, then this law is irrelevant, right?

In Churchill County, the juvenile probation office becomes involved, and according to Chief Tammy Richardson, the student will either attend a court diversion program or be required to enter into a 30-day contract with JPO. Richardson said a Student Attendance Review Board at the high school has helped with extreme cases of truancy.

For many years, the CCSD and JPO have been partners in curbing truancy in Churchill County. The new law gives an additional bite for students and their parents just like a teen who is charged with minor in consumption. That charge, according to Richardson, automatically suspends a student’s driving license for six months in Churchill County.

While some parents say they don’t need a law to tell them how to raise their children, they must realize that because of the thousands of truancies annually recorded in Nevada, many parents, however, become the problem by enabling their children to skip school. They also reveal their lack of parenting skills by not reinforcing to their children the meaning of responsibility, not only in school but also in life.

This bill is long overdue and should have been introduced and passed years ago, but teens have one of two choices: Be more responsible by attending classes or finding another method to getting around. It’s a simple choice.

Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.