Houston Matters

Proposed Bill Would Waive DPS Driving Test For Texas Teens

The state representative who has filed the bill says it would free up DPS employees who conduct the tests. An opponent thinks the waiver would make roads more dangerous.

Drivers sit in traffic on I-45 northbound at North Main Street.

The Texas Legislature is considering a bill to change how the state handles driver license tests for those under the age of 18.

For years, students who had their parents teach them to drive could have the test waived in favor of a parent-led test.

But the state legislature made a change to the Texas Transportation Code in 2009, requiring individuals younger than 18 take a test administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Texas State Representative James White.

State Representative James White, a Republican who represents District 19 in the area around Woodville, has filed a bill to reverse the current law and allow individuals under 18 to have the test waived. 

“They still have to take the test. The parent has to issue the test,” White told Houston Matters on Monday. He hopes that returning to the original law might alleviate wait times at Department of Public Safety offices that issue driver licenses. 

A document with background information about White’s bill, HB 409, says individuals who would be eligible to have their DPS test waived would need to have completed a driver education course that consists of 32 hours of classroom instruction and 44 hours combined behind-the-wheel and in-car observation.

Debbie Callahan, of the Texas Professional Driver Education Association, opposes the measure, telling Houston Matters that doing away with the 2009 law would make Texas roads more dangerous and could lead to an increase in traffic fatalities.

“Parents are not trained to be instructors, they’re not trained to know the road rules, road signs and correct bad behavior,” said Callahan.

HB 409 has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety of the Texas House of Representatives.

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