COVID-19 has quickly changed nearly every aspect of our daily lives from school to work to recreation. It’s also put a serious damper on some major life milestones for teens, including prom, graduation, and sports tournaments. Coronavirus has even made it difficult (if not impossible) for teens to get their driver’s licenses on schedule.
But some states are changing the process of getting a driver’s license to allow teens to get a driver’s license during the coronavirus era. Let’s take a look at what changes are being made and how these changes are affecting driver’s license applicants.
What Are the Biggest Changes to The Process of Getting a Driver’s License?
In strict lock-down states like Pennsylvania, driving practice is not an acceptable reason to leave the house. To log your required practice hours, your driving practice needs to be for “essential” errands like going to the grocery store or pharmacy.
In many states, including California and Massachusetts, learner’s permit expiration dates are being automatically extended until the states deem it safe to resume normal operations. You can still legally drive on your expired learner’s permit until this temporary order is lifted.
And in an unprecedented move, some states are issuing driver’s licenses without requiring a behind-the-wheel driving test. That’s right; you could get your driver’s license without taking a behind-the-wheel test.
Which States Are Waiving Behind-The-Wheel Tests?
Georgia was the first state to waive behind-the-wheel tests for applicants on April 23, 2020. If you are between 16 and 18 years old and have held a learner’s permit for over a year with no violations, you can get your driver’s license online without passing a state driving test. As of May 12, 2020, however, the driving test has been reinstated. The 20,000 teens who received their license without taking the test will have to take it prior to September 30, 2020 or they will have their license revoked.
In Wisconsin, drivers under 18 who have held a learner’s permit for six months with no violations can apply for a test waiver with the help of an adult sponsor. The state reserves the right to test drivers who used waivers once the pandemic has passed.
In Texas, qualified drivers are allowed to take their behind-the-wheel test through a third-party skills test provider (like your behind-the-wheel driving instructor) instead of taking the test with a DPS agent.
What Does the Lack of Behind-The-Wheel Testing Mean for You?
While not having a behind-the-wheel test might feel like a free pass for you, it’s not! These changes are just shifting the responsibility of determining license-readiness from the state to you.
You’ll need to pay extra attention in your driver’s ed courses and be extra vigilant while you’re driving. Waiving driving tests can make driving riskier because we’ll have untested drivers on the road. Defensive driving will be more important than ever before.
How Long Will This Last?
Unfortunately, no one truly knows how long this pandemic will last. While many states have assigned spring and summer expiration dates to their temporary driver’s license policies, they’re all careful to say that these dates may be extended as needed.
With many experts concerned about a possible second wave of the coronavirus in the fall, some states may choose to keep these temporary policies in place through the end of 2020 or even until a vaccine can be made available.
Always check your state’s driver’s bureau for the most up-to-date local information on the changing process of getting a driver’s license.
Stay healthy and drive safely.
We will continue to update our students on any changes being made by their State Governments.