With the COVID-19 pandemic not going anywhere soon, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has started a pilot program that has made it possible for people to obtain driver licenses safely. The two main features of the DMV Pilot Program are:

●  Eligible people (U.S. citizens under the age of 65 with no adverse change in their sight or new medical conditions) can renew their license online.

●  Road tests waived for teens under some stringent conditions.

The DMV has been consistently making changes and introducing new systems to continue providing essential public services, while also protecting its associates and the public during these times. For instance, they provided about 80,000 people with an expired driver license an extension to get it renewed and waived the fees for late renewal. They also allow people to renew their driver’s licenses online.

Eligibility for Online License Renewal

Drivers need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for the pilot program:

●  They must have U.S. citizenship and a Class D (regular) driver license. Keep in mind that commercial licenses do not qualify for this.

●  They must be below or the age of 64

●  The person’s sight must not have deteriorated since their last license renewal.

●  They must not have experienced any new medical complications or restrictions.

For more information, here to go to the License Renewal Online Application Form. 


People who renew their driver license online will get a confirmation via email. They can print and use it until they get the new card via mail within ten days.

The renewal fee is 34 dollars, just like before. Once the next normal eight-year-long renewal cycle ends, customers will be required to visit a DMV service center to get a new photo taken and complete the license renewal.

It may not be possible for every person to renew their driver’s license online. So, people who want a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license will still be required to go to a service center. Those without a REAL ID designation on their ID or driver’s license will be required to travel with another kind of identification, such as a passport. 

Click here for REAL ID Information

The DMV now offers a “DMV Express” service in 23 DMV offices in the state – Davis, El Monte, Fremont, Fullerton, Laguna Hills, Los Gatos, Manteca, Newhall, Pasadena, Pleasanton, Redwood City, Sacramento Broadway, San Clemente, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose Driver License Processing Center, San Mateo, San Pedro, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Temecula, Vacaville, and Walnut Creek. This program allows people the opportunity to fill out the online application for REAL ID, upload documents at home, and receive an “Express Experience” at a local DMV office. 

“No more excuses. No reason for Californians who want a REAL ID not to come to an office. No appointment is needed, and now there is an option to bring your confirmation and be treated as if you have an appointment,” said DMV Director Steve Gordon. “Fill out the application, upload your documents, and bring those documents with your confirmation number for an ‘Express Experience’ the same day or at your earliest convenience.”

Click here for more information on REAL ID Express


Road Tests For Teens Under 18

DMV has removed road tests for teenagers under 18 (16 and 17-year-olds) as a mandatory requirement. All they are required to do is complete the 30 hours of mandatory training and get permission from a guardian or a parent. Their guardian will be required to sign the waiver for the road test.

The additional stringent requirements that apply to these drivers were mentioned in a news release. They include:

●  They must have a Learners permit (also called an Instruction Permit) that has been violation-free for a minimum of six months.

●  They should have finished driving classes.

●  They have finished practical behind-the-wheel training under the guidance of a licensed instructor.

●  They have done at least thirty hours driving with a sponsor/parent, and they sign their waiver for the road test.

The restriction that newly graduated drivers need to be on a probationary period for around nine months still applies.


Can People Still Take the Road Test?

If someone still wants to or has to give the road test, they can go to a DMV service center after taking an appointment online. Testing started again on an appointment-only basis on May 26.

The news release states that examiners will enter the driver’s vehicle after applying a removable seat cover. They will also wear PPE (personal protective equipment) and a face shield to protect themselves and the driver. After completing the exam, novice drivers can order their driver’s licenses online from their homes. They will receive the card within ten business days. It’s recommended to book an appointment before visiting a DMV service center.

The DMV administrator claims that many states have implemented new programs to eliminate road tests for the meantime. While the DMV is still offering road tests, the new pilot program serves as another, safer route eligible drivers can take to avoid any risks.

The Department of Motor Vehicles stopped taking road tests in the middle of March because of coronavirus. It is estimated that DMV has received over 16,000 requests for a road test. Around 10,000 of these people are eligible for the road test waiver, and approximately 98% of teenagers under 18 complete the road test in the first attempt.

People learn how to drive safely from instruction and practice. When 16- and 17-year old’s have completed all the requirements and shown to their guardians and instructors that they are prepared for a probationary license, this program will make it easier for them to move to the next step during these trying times.

These new pilot programs are an innovative solution, created while keeping the challenges resulting from the pandemic in mind. The purpose is to remove the need to visit DMV centers to get their services. These two new pilot programs are likely to continue for the entirety of 2020 until the pandemic dies down.

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