March 20, 1996 in Idaho

Bill ‘Drives’ Teens To Stay In School

From Staff And Wire Reports

Gov. Phil Batt says there are some huge problems with a bill from the Idaho Legislature requiring teenagers to stay in school until age 18 if they want to have a driver’s license.

But its intent is so good - keeping students in school - that Batt said Tuesday he’s willing to take a gamble on it.

Batt said he will let the bill become law without his signature. That means in July, Idaho will have a new law that students under the age of 18 must be enrolled in school, work programs or the equivalent to have a driver’s license. It does not apply to students who have graduated from high school or received a certificate of high school completion.

Once a student drops out of school, school authorities are to notify the state that his or her driving license must be suspended.

“If it did not have such a strong social purpose, keeping students in school, I would veto it,” the governor said.

North Idaho has an annual dropout rate of 11.2 percent, which is about 1,000 students per year, according to the Idaho Job Service.

Many of those students are too young to drive, or leave school for reasons that have nothing to do with being able to drive.

Many girls leave because of pregnancy.

Just the same, some former students said they might have stayed in school if they thought they wouldn’t be able to drive if they dropped out.

Others said driving was crucial for surviving outside school, and the school and state should not have the power to deny them a license.

“I think this bill is seriously flawed,” Batt said.

He noted that Idaho law requires students to stay in school only to age 16.

That means students older than 16 can be deprived of driving privileges even though they have not committed a crime, Batt said.

“I think there will be some real problems,” the governor said.

He will watch the measure closely, and if the expected problems surface, he will be quick to urge the Legislature to repeal it.

He called it a “record-keeping nightmare” that will be difficult to administer.

Home-schooling will satisfy the requirement, if the student has been enrolled in a home training program for at least one year.

School authorities can grant a waiver if a student needs to drive for his or for family employment or for medical care.

, DataTimes

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