With COVID-19 creating a new normal in many areas of daily life, the world of driver’s education has seen some shifts as well. The most newsworthy change is that some states are waiving the road test for teens. This change has raised questions about what requirements are still in place.
We're continuing to keep an eye on changes being made to keep you updated. Here’s a closer look at the situation.
Two States Make Changes - Georgia & Wisconsin
Wisconsin and Georgia have been the frontrunners with these decisions. In late April, Georgia’s governor made the decision to waive the road test for 16- and 17-year-olds for as long as the public health state of emergency.
To date, nearly 20,000 teens have received their licenses without taking a road test. It is important to note that, as of May 12, 2020, however, the Georgia Governor has reinstated the driving test requirement for any teen seeking a license. Those 20,000 teens that received their license will be required to take the road test before September 30, 2020, or have their license revoked.
In Wisconsin, because of the pandemic, there were about 16,000 tests put on hold, about 10,000 of which are now eligible for the waiver. Similarly, Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation waived the road test as well. Historically, 98% pass the test on the first or second attempt, the state’s DMV said.
"Let me empathize that the road test is not going way, it is still required for many and it is an option for everyone," Craig Thompson, the state’s Department of Transportation Secretary told NBC station WMTV. Tests can still be scheduled after May 26, when the stay-at-home order is lifted, but the department still may have limited hours and fewer resources, so delays can be expected.
Other States Considering Waiving the Driving Test
Nevada and South Carolina are two other states considering waiving testing. However, they have not indicated, as of yet, whether they’ll waive their road tests. Officials in Minnesota, a state once considering a waiver, recently said they would not follow Georgia and Wisconsin's decisions. As states begin to re-open businesses and services throughout May and June, you might hear of more states considering waivers.
What It Means For Education And Requirements
The move is not welcomed by everyone. One Georgia driver’s education instructor even began a petition to reverse the governor’s decision at the time. In the meantime, many people wonder what this really means for education. However, it's important to note that all the other requirements are still the same in both states who have chosen to waive their road tests.
In Georgia, 16- and 17-year-old teen applicants are still part of a graduated system. Before someone in this age group can apply for a license and waiver, the applicant must:
Have held a learner’s permit for one year and one day with no violations.
Have completed at least 40 hours of supervised driving, six hours of which need to be at night.
Pass the on-the-road driving test which has now been reinstated as a requirement
In Wisconsin, 16-year-olds are also part of a graduated system and must still:
Have had a learner’s permit for at least six months with no violations.
Complete at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel experience, with at least 10 of those hours being at night.
Fill out a driving log and be accompanied by someone at least 19 years old with a minimum of two years driving experience.
Be enrolled in school or have graduated from high school.
For both states, all applicable fees must still be paid and proof of identity requirements are still in place as well.
As states begin to reopen in phases, we will continue to track and document the changes that are being adopted when it comes to licensing updates. Please check-in and stay informed!