Driver’s license regulation departments across the U.S. were forced to close temporarily due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the country deals with reopenings in various phases, residents are doing their best to work within the changes at their local licensing departments.
Does your state currently offer in-person driver’s license services? Can you get an extension for your expiring driver’s license? Is your state department still closed?
Here’s a look at DMV reopening rules and regulations amid COVID-19 as of late August 2020.
General Guidelines for Navigating DMV Reopening Regulations
Before we get too specific, here are a few general guidelines to help you navigate the DMV reopening regulations, regardless of which state you call home:
Use online services whenever possible to avoid in-person interaction.
If you must physically visit a DMV branch, schedule an appointment.
Maintain the six-foot distance standard when possible.
Even if facemasks are not required in your state, consider wearing one for the safety and comfort of those around you while you’re inside the DMV facility.
Are Any DMV Locations Still Closed?
Many states closed DMV offices temporarily in March, but most have since reopened. Some states are reopening county-by-county and may have locations in some counties closed while locations in other counties are open. Many open DMV branches are limiting the in-person services they offer and/or requiring appointments.
So even if your state DMVs have reopened, you should confirm the following information before visiting your local branch:
Is the specific branch you plan to visit open?
What are the current hours of operation?
Is your local branch offering the service you need in-person?
Is there an online alternative?
Which States Still Have Specific DMV Rules and Regulations for Reopening?
Nearly all states currently have some type of specific COVID-19-related regulations in place. Here are some of the most common DMV reopening rules and regulations:
Appointment required. Most states with open DMVs require an appointment for any in-person service. This rule is meant to limit exposure by limiting crowd size. It’s also meant to keep wait times reasonable as DMVs work to process all the requests that built up while locations were closed. Walk-ins may be denied entry, so double-check with your state DMV before visiting.
Postponing and modifying behind-the-wheel tests. Some states, like Pennsylvania, are not currently conducting behind-the-wheel tests. The majority are offering road tests, but not quite the same as before. In Georgia and Ohio, the exam moderator never gets in the vehicle. Instead, a licensed parent or guardian is in the passenger seat while the moderator observes and scores the performance.
Requiring a symptom screening. Kansas, Florida and many other states currently require all DMV visitors to pass a COVID-19 symptom screening before entering the building.
Facemasks. Even if masks aren’t required state-wide, your local DMV location may require them.
Are Any States Waiving the Behind-The-Wheel Driving Test?
There are a few states that have decided to completely waive the DMV-proctored behind-the-wheel exam for the duration of the pandemic. These states include North Carolina, Wisconsin and Mississippi. Each of these states has its own specific criteria for determining who is eligible to get a driving test waiver. Since these measures are temporary, you should consult your state’s DMV website for the most up-to-date waiver requirements.
Which States Are Offering License Renewal Extensions?
The pandemic has affected DMV operations in all U.S. states, effectively forcing all states to offer some sort of driver’s license renewal extensions for people who were unable to renew an expiring license during the pandemic.
The extension programs vary greatly by state, and unfortunately, there is no standard extension period. In many states, there’s a grace period of a predetermined number of days (ie. a 90-day grace period), and in other states, all license holders have been granted an extension to a specific future date (ie. September 30, 2020). Then in some states, like Nevada, residents have been assigned a new expiration date depending on the period in which the license expired.
To make sure you renew your license on time, consult your local DMV.
How Long Will These DMV Reopening Rules and Regulations Apply?
The COVID-19 situation is still changing day-to-day. So even as DMVs publish their reopening rules and regulations, these procedures are subject to change to meet the changing circumstances. Always check with your state’s DMV for local, up-to-date information before planning an appointment.
*This article was updated on 9/15/2020