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California DMV Resumes Behind-the-Wheel Testing

Ends further COVID-19 restrictions and delays; license, permit extension get firm 2021 end dates

By Evan Symon, February 1, 2021 2:45 pm

On Monday, the California DMV resumed in-person behind-the-wheel tests and will be taking new appointments later this month, signaling that the DMV will be reducing the number of restrictions and delays in the coming months.

In-person tests had been halted since December 14th due to a climb in COVID-19 cases in the state, with those having appointments being delayed indefinitely. First-time driver applicants and commercial driver applicants have been backlogged since then

According to the DMV press release, those who had their tests canceled will be automatically rescheduled for an appointment and be alerted via text message in the next few weeks. Once all previous applicants have been assigned, new applicants can set up appointments starting in mid-February.

“The DMV will automatically reschedule customers for behind-the-wheel drive test appointments that were canceled between December 14 and February 1,” noted the DMV press release. “Rescheduling is expected to begin in the next two weeks, and customers will be notified by text of their rescheduled appointment. DMV anticipates new appointments for behind-the-wheel tests will be available in mid-February once all previously postponed tests have been rescheduled.”

All tests takers will also be subject to COVID-19 safety standards, including wearing masks. Due to the closeness of in-car testing, added precautions, such as temperature taking, car windows being open, and instructors using seat covers, will be followed.

In addition to the testing changes, the DMV also gave end dates on many COVID-19-affected practices. Driving permit expiration dates that had been extended have been firmly capped at six months, with the last permit extensions to end on May 31, 2021. Extended drivers licenses and commercial driving permits were also confirmed to have an end date at the end of the month, meaning that they must be renewed if they expired anytime before February 28, 2021.

“Things are slowly normalizing again,” DMV employee “Molly” told the Globe. “The pandemic, with the vaccine now, and lockdowns being lifted, will be receding more and more. And we’ve been granting license renewals without new vision tests, new photos, or updated information unless they’ve done it already. For a change of address, all you need to do is change it online right now. No proof, no penalty if you hadn’t tried to get a new license for a long time to replace it.”

“Now we’re normalizing again. Expiration dates are now becoming the real dates again. In-car testing is back too. With COVID-19, walk-ins have had to wait all day for help at a DMV office if they got here first thing in the morning. Now, little by little, we’ll bring the times back to normal so it’s not an all day thing. I know you can make so many DMV long wait jokes about this, but we honestly want to bring the wait times back down too.”

More DMV in-person services are expected to be brought back in the coming year.

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