SALINA — Despite what it says in the Kansas Driving Handbook, the state's new graduated driving law does not allow 15-year-olds to drive anywhere they want if they have had 50 hours of supervised driving.
Officials at the Kansas Department of Revenue acknowledge that a mistake in the handbooks offered at the state driver's license offices might be misunderstood by parents and their young drivers.
The handbook reads that 15-year-olds who have received 50 hours of supervised driving can drive anywhere with one non-sibling passenger between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The law actually states that 15-year-old drivers are restricted to driving the most direct route to and from work and school if not accompanied by a licensed adult.
Terry Mitchell, chief driver's license examiner for the Department of Revenue, said that the paragraph will be corrected in future handbooks, one of which is currently being developed. He was not sure when the new handbooks would be available but thought it was "not too far away."
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"We proofread it three or four times, and we still missed it," Mitchell said. "What can I say?"
Mitchell said Friday that no one was disciplined for what he called an honest error. He said the mistake was not included on websites or educational materials the department uses.
The graduated license requirements, which took effect Jan. 1, impose restrictions for the first six months a 16-year-old is licensed. After the first six successful months of driving, the limitations are lifted.
The bill that instituted the new law was 15 pages long and amended seven previous state statutes, Mitchell said.
"It's not real simple," he said. "Any law is very, very difficult to go through. That's why they have attorneys writing this stuff."
The revenue department sent a cutout with a correction to its offices across the state, which will allow employees to mark the incorrect information.
Under the new law, a driver must be 16 years old before being allowed to carry a non-sibling passenger younger than 18 and drive anywhere between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older.
The mistake came to light when a parent called Salina police to confirm what the handbook said. Salina Deputy Police Chief Carson Mansfield said officers knew it was a mistake and contacted the Department of Revenue.