Pandemic stalls DMV testing, frustrating those waiting on driver's licenses
Posted May 27, 2020 6:45 p.m. EDT
Updated May 28, 2020 12:19 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Teens across North Carolina and their parents are frustrated that the state Division of Motor Vehicles has no idea when it will resume the road tests needed to obtain a driver's license.
DMV halted the tests in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and agency officials have said they need guidance from state health officials about when it will be safe for a driver and an examiner to be together in the front seat of a car.
"It’s not our call," state Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott said. "It’s going to be when the officials say, 'If you do this, this and this.' Maybe everybody has to wear masks [and] gloves. Is the car going to be clean? Then, we can go ahead with it."
Sixteen-year-old Margaret Taylor already has a new set of wheels, but her father said she can't head out on the road without her license.
"It would just help us out here a lot at the house," Brian Taylor said. "She’s ready to pick up some hours, additional hours, [at work] now that her school is just about over for the school year, and it would be great for her to drive herself to and from work."
Even more frustrating, he said, is that DMV has no idea when road tests will resume.
"We just feel like we’re in limbo because we don’t know. We haven’t even heard an estimated time," he said.
Abbott said DMV is frustrated with the wait as well.
"This is one thing they have left to do, and they can’t do it. It’s frustrating to us, parents and the drivers," he said.
Lawmakers are trying to address the problem.
A bill filed in the state Senate on Tuesday would allow DMV to waive the road test requirement temporarily for drivers to obtain a Level 2 provisional license, if they have completed all other requirements. But drivers would need to pass a road test later to obtain a Level 3 provisional license.
In the House, a bill filed Wednesday would allow DMV to waive the road test as long as all other requirements are met and parents agree to accept financial liability for all of the new driver's actions.
Taylor contends that, if people can be in close contact with barbers and tattoo artists, they should be able to take a driving test.
"Can we not apply some of the same criteria to the driving test – wearing PPE, being responsible?" he asked.
DMV officials recommend that people waiting for their road test finish all of the paperwork and other required tests to make the process faster when road tests resume.