The DMV during COVID-19: What to know about the new Rules & Regulations


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in most states closed their offices in March. Many have now reopened but with strict safety protocols in place to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. Here’s how the DMV plans to serve the public safely as we continue to live under the threat of COVID-19.

State Rules and Regulations Amid COVID-19

Each state’s DMV operates independently and may have different regulations in place. Most have implemented standard safety protocols such as: 

  • Making reservations online

  • Wearing face covering at all times

  • Personal protection equipment (PPS) worn by employees

  • Using hand sanitizer

  • 6ft social distancing

  • Installation of glass barriers at counters/registers

  • Checking the temperature of employees

  • Enhanced sanitation

For a closer look at how DMV offices have adapted here’s how four states are serving the public amid COVID-19.

California

As of June 11th, California reopened all of its field offices. Limited services are available, and customers are encouraged to use online services whenever possible. 

Select locations are now conducting behind-the-wheel driving tests for first-time drivers and commercial license applicants, but keep in mind appointments are limited at this time. And be ready to get your temperature checked, answer health questions and wear a mask while driving. You’ll also have to drive with at least two windows down so practice that ahead of time.

A senior driver extension has been granted to anyone 70 and older with a drivers license that expires between March 2020 and December 2020. You’ll get an extension of one year from the original expiration date. If you need to renew your drivers license or ID card that can be done online.

Hand-washing stations for customers are available in select locations. To reduce the number of people in the building, text messages will be sent to customers waiting outside to notify them when an agent is ready to serve them.

Florida

Florida started reopening DMV centers on June 3 for appointments only. You can renew licenses and vehicle registrations online by visiting GoRenew.com. Those who cannot access the website will be allowed to do renewals in-person.

When visiting a Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) branch, customers will be asked screening questions and have their temperature taken. Anyone with a fever will not be allowed into the building.

Need to take the Knowledge Exam? Third Party Administrators are handling permit tests in Florida. And Aceable is one of them!

Indiana

Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) opened for walk-ins on June 15th. Late fees for licenses, permits, ID cards and vehicle registration cards that need renewal began on June 30th.

Driving skills exams are available again by appointment only. Appointments must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

BMV offices will limit the number of customers allowed in the branch at one time. During busy periods, you may need to wait outside. All customers are expected to adhere to physical distancing rules. Wearing a mask is compulsory for employees but optional for customers.

Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has reopened its offices for licensing services. At this time they are scheduling services by appointment only. The services include issuing drivers permits, licenses and renewals. 

A waiver for expired licenses and IDs is still in place. The card will be valid for 60 days after the TX DPS resumes normal business.

Texas started reopening DMV centers on May 26th for appointments only. COVID-19 regulations allow only one person in the office per appointment unless they require the assistance of a caregiver. Face masks are now required whenever you’re in a TxDMV location.

You’ll need to complete all necessary forms before arriving for your appointment. In-person appointments are for the following:

  • Replacement titles

  • Bonded Title Notice of Determination

  • Title history

  • Temporary permits

  • Assigned or reassigned numbers

  • Registration refund authorizations

  • Investigating and resolving Texas title errors

If you’re unsure about your local DMV’s current rules during COVID-19, call or visit their website. If they are open and allow appointments, go prepared. Have your documentation ready, wear a face mask and keep a safe distance from other customers. 

Ohio

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) began reopening locations on May 26th and enacted an expiration extension to cut down on in-office visits. All licenses, IDs and registrations that expired on or after March 8, 2020 are automatically extended to December 1, 2020 or 90 days after the state emergency ends, whichever is sooner.

All Ohio BMV locations are now administering the maneuverability test. Only select locations are also providing in-car testing. In-car tests have been modified so that another licensed driver is in the car during the testing.

Social distancing is in effect at the BMV, and some offices require face masks. 

Georgia

The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) offices are currently open, however, the department is promoting the use of the DDS GO app and online services portal for many driving-related services. If you absolutely have to go in-person you must schedule an appointment in advance.

Already have a license or ID card? If it expires between March 14, 2020 and June 30, 2020 you get a 120-day extension. The extension applies to driving permits, limited permits, non-commercial and commercial drivers licenses. Provisional drivers licenses do not quality for the automatic extension, but you can get a Class C license online once you turn 18 years old.


Georgia is also not enforcing rules regarding state licenses for new residents. If you have recently moved to Georgia retain your current drivers license to continue legally driving.


Driving tests are being conducted, but they aren’t quite the same. The examiner will administer a modified contactless road test. You’ll be scored the same as before, but the examiner will observe the performance from outside of the vehicle. Road tests will be on a private, closed course and a parent or guardian will need to remain in the vehicle at all times. 

All tests, including knowledge tests for a permit, much be scheduled online before going to the DMV.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) shut down offices in March, but those that were in yellow zones began reopening May 8, 2020. A number of safety measures have been implemented including special hours for people 60 and older.

Many services are available at the open locations, however, some services are still unavailable. They include:

  • Non-commercial road tests

  • REAL ID applications

  • REAL ID transactions

  • Any service that is currently offered online

Drivers license and vehicle registrations can be renewed online at this time. You can also request a copy of your driving history, change your address, request a duplicate license and pay restoration fees online.

Unfortunately, taking a road test is out of the question for most drivers. You can schedule a permit test or written driven exam online, and you’ll be pre-screened when you arrive to look for COVID-19 symptoms. The number of customers that are allowed in the office at once is limited so plan well in advance.

Is your license about to expire? Licenses, ID and permits that are set to expire from March 16 to August 21, 2020 will be automatically extended to August 31, 2020. If you need to renew your license you can get one through the mail. PennDOT will use the latest photo on record for the new license. However, PennDOT has suspended the issuance of REAL IDs.

There are no longer any extensions for vehicle registration, safety inspections and emissions inspections. 

Are Some DMVs Still Closed?

Some DMVs haven’t yet reopened or are temporarily closed again due to outbreaks. For example, some DMVs in New York are closed in regions that haven’t reached phase 3 status. They are accepting transactions online, by mail or through a secure drop box outside each branch. In North Carolina, some DMV offices remain closed, and appointments are required at the offices that are open.

If your DMV is closed and you’re worried about penalty fees for overdue licenses, most DMVs have granted extensions on expired driver’s licenses or vehicle registration. Alternatively, you can renew these online if your DMV offers virtual services. 

When Will I Be Able To Take My Driving Test?

Thanks to online providers like Aceable, students can still complete a driver's ed course. But once you pass the course you may be wondering when you’ll be able to take the driver’s test.

Many DMVs are not conducting road tests just yet. In areas where there are outbreaks, behind-the-wheel tests are too risky due to close contact between examiner and applicant. Instead, many drivers are getting a road test waiver if they meet certain requirements. 

As noted above, some states like Georgia have found a way around contact concerns with modified road tests where the examiner isn’t actually inside the vehicle.

Contact Your Local DMV For More Information

To find out what the current COVID-19 regulations are for your state, get in touch with your local DMV. Many DMVs are accepting appointments but not walk-ins. Many are also offering services by phone, email, and online — the safest options for now. 

*This article was updated on 9/22/20.