Automatic cars now OK for driving license tests

As Gilda Radner’s alter ego Emily Litela used to say on “Saturday Night Live”: “Never mind.”

The transport ministry now says automatic transmission vehicles will be allowed for drivers taking their road test.

In 2008 the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes issued an order that prohibited those taking a driving test to use any vehicle with automatic transmission. The reason never was fully explained.

Now equally without warning, the ministry issued a decree specifying different types of licenses and also giving the go-ahead to driving tests with automatic transmission vehicles. The decree was published Thursday. In addition those taking the test with an automatic transmission may later drive a vehicle with a manual transmission.

The decree also specifies that a 13 year old can obtain an A license that allows him or her to drive a motorcycle or quadracycle with cylinder displacement of 90 cubic centimeters. A 15 year old can obtain an A-2 license for vehicles with displacement of 91 to 125 cubic centimeters. And 17 year olds can obtain an A-3 license that allows driving a motorcycle or quadracycle with 126 to 500 cubic centimeters of displacement. Parental permission is required in all these cases.

Despite the regulations, most youngsters drive such vehicles without any license, and some have been invovled in fatal accidents.

The traditional B-1 license for motor vehicles under 1,500 kilos requires the applicant to be 18 years old.

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