So, you’re a big man now? Old legs getting tired of walking? Public transportation not working out for you? Ladies rejecting you because you can’t drive? Well its time you go get yourself a driver’s license. To do this the RIGHT way may take a bit of cash and quite a bit of time. Yes, you may have a little link through which you can buy a license, but do you want to be driving, making simple errors due to lack of training and have other drivers condescendingly ask you if your license was bought? I think not. Now to get a license in Jamaica requires several steps, I’ll try to be as detailed as possible.
You will first need to get a learners permit/license to do this you will have to go to a nearby tax office and collect a form. The details must be entered on the form which should then be signed by a justice of the peace (JP) along with 2 passport sized pictures (also signed by JP). Take the signed form and photographs back to the tax office for processing. You will receive your learners permit immediately.
The next step will be learning to drive. You may have private lessons from a licensed driver who must be seated in the passenger seat adjacent to the driver’s seat at all times during the lesson. The other option is to use a driving school. For persons living in Kingston there is JAA driving school, Grennell’s driving school and Keys driving school among others. I chose to use Keys driving school simply because, while being very expensive was still more affordable than the other options I considered. My latest update had the cost of one lesson being $850 where one lesson lasts 30 minutes long. If you purchase ten or more lessons at once each lesson will cost $750. Basically it is cheaper to buy ten lessons than it is to buy nine.
Having paid for lessons and having made a schedule at the Keys driving school’s office located off Hagley park road just beside York plaza, you are ready for the road! Well not really, your first couple of lessons are at a private lot nearby (about 1km away off Molynes Rd) and a shuttle will be provided to transport you to and from the lot.
You have the option of selecting standard transmission or, for those who can’t manage, automatic transmission. Of course, being the macho beast they say I am I chose standard. I like the sporty feel of standard transmission, lower fuel consumption and if the battery dies you can simply push start. If you decide that you are going for the standard transmission your first instructor is very likely to be a miserable old man who will slap you on the leg for making a simple error such as stalling the vehicle (happens to every beginner). The man miserable u si! But him cool still.
After mastering the art of changing the gear, reversing and parallel parking you will be allowed to drive on the road. Driving on the road is very easy and after a total of 15-25 lessons (all depends on you), you are ready for your test. The first thing you will need to do is pay for the test, right now the cost is $2,700 but with the sliding dollar don’t be alarmed if it increases. You may then take the receipt to keys driving school where they will arrange with the Depot (at Swallowfield Rd) to schedule a day for your test. Beware Keys may delay scheduling the date so they may make some more money. The longer it takes to schedule a date the more likely it will be that you will purchase additional lessons, they will even call you to encourage more purchases.
You will also need a vehicle for the test. Keys provides this service as well at a cost of $4,000. Buying it on the corner seems attractive now doesn’t it? But don’t, you will need the lessons plus it is unethical. The test is separated into three parts, the written test, the yard test and the road test. There are two papers for standard transmission and one for automatic transmission students. For the written test there are two books that you will need which are also sold at the driving school. On finishing the test you will be asked to wait outside while they mark the papers. After passing the written section you will move on to the yard test which includes the hill start, reversing and finally parallel parking. You will be told whether you passed or not, in fact, you will know. Another waiting period will follow so it may be wise to clear your schedule for the day. The road test is usually done within the region of Mountain View. You have to be very careful as the examiner (seated at the back) may fail you for the simplest error.
If you passed all sections of your test you will be asked where you prefer to pick up your license. There is a collectorate office in Downtown and another in Constant Spring. In order to pick up your license, there is a $6,000 fee! You will take a photo for your license at the collectorate and the total process usually takes a one to two hours.
So there you have it, a few months and about $40,000 later you will have a driver’s license.