Students struggle to obtain driver’s licenses

Some seniors, juniors face driving hardships during COVID-19

Graphic+by+Fiona+Kogan+%2722

Graphic by Fiona Kogan ’22

For Grayson Mandl ‘22 and Nate Dancer ‘22, obtaining a driver’s license during a pandemic has proven difficult.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Chicago Public Schools driving centers in March. The DMV reopened in June. Driving centers were temporarily open but recently closed due to the Stay-At-Home advisory. Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, said the DMV will also be closed until Dec. 7. Mandl was lucky enough to take Driver’s Education early last fall, and he recently got his driver’s license from the DMV.

Dancer also got his license recently from the DMV. 

“We were in line for about three and a half hours and inside the DMV for about 40 minutes, so 4 hours 15 minutes [of standing in line] total.”

For some students, COVID-19 gave them an opportunity to fulfill the 50-hour requirement for their driver’s license. 

“When everything was locked down, I just drove to the middle of nowhere and to the store every day,” said Mandl. 

The difference between whether current Juniors were able to get their license is dependent on whether they took Driver’s Ed during the first or second semester. 

 “I got my permit the first or second day of the year and then over the summer, I was driving a lot,” said Mandl.  

Because Mandl took Driver’s Ed in the fall, he was able to get his permit in early January and dedicate time during quarantine to getting his required hours. 

“After everything opened up, I just started looking immediately for how to get my license,” said Mandl.

He and Dancer both took range through Lane Tech High School in April. 

“I also did traffic at Lane Tech, which is the driving portion of the driving test,” Dancer said. 

While both Mandl and Dancer took the written portion of the driving test in school, they completed the driving portion of the test in-person amid the pandemic. Both the driver and the instructor were required to wear masks during the test.

Not every student was lucky enough to get their license, or even their permit, during the pandemic. Sofia Soberanis ‘22 still does not have her permit even after taking Driver’s Ed in the spring. 

“I feel like there’s no necessity to drive because I don’t even have a car, but it’s nice to have it for emergencies, so I’m kind of mad I’m behind,” said Soberanis.

Driver’s Education teacher, Lauren Vrettos, explained the process of getting a driver’s permit. 

“[Students] can sign up at a CPS school where they have behind-the-wheel/range/traffic. At that point, the school would send your transcript to the DMV to get your permit,” said Vrettos.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has put a wrench in the usual procedures. The recent stay-at-home advisory has also brought up more uncertainty about the availability of schools offering resources for students.

“Many [schools] have shut down their range/traffic because Covid is spiking again. A lot of people don’t have their permit but need it,” said Vrettos.

Like Mandl and Dancer, Soberanis also took a written test for Driver’s Ed before the school year concluded. 

“I took a test through Google Forms, but I don’t know if it counted,” Soberanis said.

Despite the students’ confusion, Vrettos has not received any word from the P.E. Department about how to advise students interested in getting their permit/license.

“I’ve had a lot of questions being asked,” said Vrettos. “Getting a permit/license is a big hassle right now.”