Californians waiting throughout the coronavirus pandemic to get their first driver’s license or commercial license will get their first chance on Friday, when the state DMV resumes behind-the-wheel driving tests.
The in-vehicle tests, which are required for first-time applicants, have been suspended for three months, and some protocols have been updated in light of the continued need for social distancing.
Those who had their test cancelled due to coronavirus shutdowns will be the first in line, and their appointments will be automatically rescheduled. Those tests are expected to take several weeks to complete, the agency said in a news release.
“I’m asking for everyone’s patience as we safely clear the backlog of behind-the-wheel drive test appointments,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said in a statement. “For all of those Californians who have been waiting, we know how important this is to you.”
Appointments for new behind-the-wheel tests are expected to open up later this summer.
If your permit expired, you’ll need to submit new application online before taking your test. The DMV asks these applicants to check in 30 minutes before their appointment time.
Everyone taking a behind-the-wheel test will be required to wear a mask, and they will have to answer health screening questions before starting.
Those applying in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties will also have their temperatures checked. That requirement will be rolled out to additional counties in the coming weeks, officials said.
The DMV examiner will wear a face covering and gloves, and they will cover the test vehicle’s passenger seat and floorboard with plastic.
More of the test will also be done outside the vehicle, such as when the examiner is delivering pre-test instructions. And during the test, at least two of the vehicle’s windows must be lowered to increase ventilation.
In hopes of processing applicants faster the agency will give more exams each day, shorten the test route in many locations, and expand availability by extending hours and offering Saturday appointments in some locations.
The state’s DMV has been slowly resuming service. It reopened all 169 of its field offices earlier this month, but visitors must make an appointment, and some transactions are still not being offered. A full list of services currently available at the DMV can be found here.
But customers who do not need to conduct their business at a DMV location are still urged to do so online, through a virtual field office or at one of the agency’s kiosks. Online services have been expanded during the pandemic to include driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals, among other transactions.