SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles will now waive the behind-the-wheel driving skills test for any student who successfully completes a driver education course approved by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Currently in Central Oregon, the ODOT-approved course is offered through High Desert Driver Education, a program of the High Desert Education Service District in partnership with several local school districts.
HDDE is one of three driver education course programs in the region. The other two are privately owned and are not designated to replace the DMV behind-the-wheel driving skills test, officials said.
To be eligible to participate in the High Desert Driver Education program, a student must be 15 to 17 years old with a valid Oregon Instructional Permit and successfully complete the HDDE program, which includes 30 hours of classroom instruction and 12 hours of in-car instruction.
The total cost for instruction and testing is $295.
Students who successfully complete all aspects of the program and pass their final driving exam can waive the driving test offered at the DMV offices.
To obtain a driver's license, students must still be at least 16 years old, have had their driver's permit for a minimum of six months and have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice. At that time, they can visit the DMV office, take the "Safe Practices" written exam; have their photo taken; pay the DMV fees; and receive a driver's license.
The option to waive the DMV behind-the-wheel driving test by taking the driver education course through HDDE is designed to make the drive test more convenient and accessible to students and families while streamlining the student driver's license process for local DMV offices.
While driver education instruction is not mandatory to receive an Oregon Driver's License, if a student enrolls and successfully completes an approved course, this will be an added benefit.
"We just added proficiency credit to our driver education programs," said Rick Nickell, HDDE manager. "This new driver's license waiver is an exciting additional value and will make it easier for students and their families. It's an added service we can provide to our communities and it makes sense to have classroom instruction, behind-the-wheel instruction, and testing available through one convenient program."
According to HDDE Manager Cathy Richards another benefit of the new option is a shorter wait time for re-taking the driving test should a student need extra instruction to pass. The DMV waiting period to re-take the driving test is currently 28 days. HDDE requires only a seven-day waiting period after the first failed driving test.
"Fortunately, our students typically do very well on the test and don't have to retake it, but in the event that they should need to, we like to make that happen as soon as possible," said Richards.
The HDDE Program serves students in multiple Central Oregon school districts including: Bend-La Pine; Crook County; Madras; Redmond; and Sisters. HDDE also partners with private schools and home school students to ensure that all young drivers have access to the knowledge and skills they need to become safe drivers.
For more information call (541) 693-5699 or visit www.hddriversed.org