Baldwin Driving Academy expands to Houlton

2 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Prospective new drivers in southern Aroostook County will once again have a local alternative for obtaining their learner’s permits.

Baldwin’s Driving Academy of Presque Isle has expanded to Houlton, offering a series of classes and local driving options for students.

Mountain’s Driving School had operated in Houlton for 21 years but closed in June when its owner relocated to Dexter. The closure left parents with just two options — Presque Isle or Bangor — for their kids to be enrolled in a driver’s education course.

Vincent Baldwin, owner of Baldwin’s Driving Academy, said the decision to expand to Houlton seemed like a natural fit.

“We had kids coming from as far south as Danforth to Presque Isle for classes,” Baldwin said. “So there was definitely a need here.”

In order to expand, Baldwin said he needed to find an additional person to assist with driving students. It took approximately nine months to find a suitable candidate.

Baldwin, a licensed state of Maine Driver Education instructor for the last 20 years and a career firefighter for 26 years, said interest in the Houlton area course has been high. Twenty-one students were signed up for the orientation program at Houlton Thursday evening.

The in-person classroom experience is being offered at Houlton Middle-High School.

“My goal is to run a new class [in Houlton] every two months,” he said. “In Presque Isle, I take a limited number of students and can do them in one month, but down here, I doubled that amount.”

To be eligible to take the learner’s permit course, a student must be at least 15 years old by the start of the driver education course. There are a couple of state-approved methods for teaching a driver education learner’s permit course.

A traditional driver education course consists of 30 hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.

A blended driver education course is a mixture of classroom instruction, AAA Online course done by the student with a computer at home and 10 hours of behind the wheel instruction.

Baldwin said while he is offering the traditional course in Presque Isle, the Houlton area will use the hybrid-style course because of the logistics of traveling to Houlton, as well as the number of people traveling from south of Houlton to attend the classes.

“It’s a mixture of in-person or Zoom classes, and then an online program through AAA followed by behind-the-wheel driving.”

For information on the driving academy, visit Baldwin’s website.

HOULTON, Maine — October 28, 2022 — Sarah Howe of Houlton sits behind the wheel of the Baldwin’s Driving Academy car during a recent session in Houlton. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Baldwin)