Teens who drop out of school or skip too many classes would lose their driver’s licenses under a bill making its way through the state Senate.
The Senate Education Committee gave its OK Wednesday to the measure, which would revoke the driving privileges of students under the age of 18 if they drop out of school, are expelled or miss more than 10 days of classes.
Exceptions would be made for students who need to drive to support themselves or their families, those enrolled in high school-equivalency programs and those who enlist in the military. No matter their school status, teens could regain their licenses once they turn 18.
The full Senate now will consider the bill, which passed the House last year.
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“This is not the silver bullet to the high school dropout problem,” said state Rep. Tom Young, R-Aiken, who sponsored the bill. “But if it keeps some from dropping out, it’s a good thing for South Carolina.”
According to U.S. Department of Education statistics, 3.4 percent of S.C. students dropped out of school during the ’08-’09 school year. That compares to 4.2 percent in Georgia and 5.3 percent in North Carolina.
At least 20 other states have similar laws.
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais does not oppose the bill, said his spokesman, Jay Ragley. “The agency can fulfill the requirements of the bill,” Ragley added.
If it becomes law, the bill will create more work for the courts and the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
An official told senators Wednesday that the Administrative Law Court anticipates handling 300 to 500 new court cases annually if the law is adopted, adding new employees will need to be hired to handle the work.
Officials with Motor Vehicles, which would handle the paperwork part of revoking the licenses, also have said that agency would need to hire a handful of new workers.