DMV Resumes In-Person Driving Tests

Behind-the-wheel exams were canceled in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles will resume its in-person driving tests Friday at field offices across the state with new, pandemic-era protocols in place.

DMV field offices across California closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic and, when that happened, the DMV also canceled in-person driving exams.

But now that all 169 California DMV field offices have reopened, services like the driving test are available once more. Starting Friday, first-time drivers or commercial applicants who had their previous appointments canceled will be allowed to return to DMV field offices to take the driving exam. The DMV said those cancellations will be rescheduled automatically.

According to the DMV, new safety protocols for the behind-the-wheel exams include face masks, which must be worn by all.

Applicants will be asked a series of screening questions before starting the test and, in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties, applicants will also have their temperatures checked. In the coming weeks, the DMV said the temp checks will be a requirement at all field offices statewide.

Meanwhile, for DMV employees conducting the exams, things have also changed.

They must wear protective face coverings and gloves and must place plastic covers on the test vehicle’s passenger seat and floorboard. The DMV said at least two windows must be lowered during the test “for increased ventilation.”

These days, examiners will conduct more of the driving test outside of the car, including when they’re giving an applicant those pre-driving instructions.

The DMV said it will also shorten the driving testing route in many locations in order to expedite the testing process and increase the number of exams it can complete each day.

“The test routes will be long enough to adequately determine driving knowledge and safety skills,” the DMV said in a press release Friday.

The DMV also plans to expand the hours when the tests are conducted, which could include Saturday service for driving tests at some high-volume field offices.

One more tip: if an applicant’s permit has expired, they will need to fill out a new online application before visiting the DMV in person; they should plan on checking in 30 minutes before their appointment time.

Getting through the backlog of the driving test cancellations will take weeks, so any new appointments will have to wait. The DMV said new appointments will be available later this summer.

In addition to the driving test, other in-person services available again at the DMV include paying the registration for an impounded car, reinstating a suspended driver’s license, applying for a reduced-fee ID card, and procession commercial license transactions.

And, while driving tests need to be done in person, many of the services offered by the DMV can be done online, so the DMV recommends customers use that portal as much as possible. The DMV has expanded its virtual services to complete transactions, including eligible driver license and vehicle registration renewals. Visit the DMV website for more on that.

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