If you don’t know how to drive a car, need driving lessons or don’t have a legal driver license to be able to do it in New York, you know first-hand how debilitating that can be. You don’t have the freedom to just get into a car to go to the store, out to eat or, most importantly, to work.

Now, if you’ve lost your license because of too many violations or can’t afford the insurance rates of operating a vehicle, taking a defensive driving course online is an ideal way to reduce both license points and insurance rates to making driving feasible. But if you don’t know how to drive altogether, it’s a completely different story.

This matter can become even more complicated if you don’t have the financial means necessary to acquire drivers training. A lack of a license can spell difficulty getting or keeping a job, for instance. The good news for New Yorkers is that there are various programs offered that aim to assist low-income individuals and families on this matter.

What is the New York Drives program?

If you can’t drive, it’s going to be difficult for you to get a job.

That’s the thinking behind the New York Drives program, which provides drivers training and a path toward getting a license for low-income professionals. Organized by Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, the program is accepting of all New York residents, especially those in the 18 to 24 age group.

The program is six weeks long and consists of all the education and skills that an individual would need to earn a driver license in the state. The first three weeks of the program are designed to enhance professional development, and the final three weeks are dedicated to driving instruction.

Another neat thing about the New York Drives program is that it puts people on the path to employment after they earn their driver license. After passing their road test, program entrants are enrolled into training programs that lead to employment. Some of the jobs that it connects graduates with include trade workers, security professionals, and TV and film set workers.

It can be tough to get into this program, however. Hundreds apply, yet organizers say that only about 75 can be taken each year. If you think you’d be a good fit, New York Drives hosts informational sessions for prospective students.

Are there other options for low income families?

If you don’t qualify for the New York Drives program or just don’t think that it’s the right fit for you, there are other low-cost options for you to earn your license in New York. One route to a legal license is through a government training program. Some driving schools, for instance, work with the government to put individuals on the path to acquiring a CDL, or commercial driver license.
Because CDL jobs are in demand, these types of programs provide a good opportunity for people to get legally licensed and then have the inside track on a job opportunity following licensing. Some of the driving schools involved even offer what they call “job ready training.” While costs may vary based on the driving school that you work with, many of the government programs are free to qualified individuals.

Whether you’re new to the country and living in New York or unable to afford a traditional driver’s training program, the state offers several opportunities for low-income individuals to get the training they need to earn a license. For special programs to government training, there are options for people if they know where to look for them.