Students Get Permits and Licenses After DMV Closures


After the onslaught of DMV closures over the past year, students have struggled to get back on track when it comes to getting their permits and driver’s licenses.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles field offices were closed from March to June, leaving many wondering how and when they would be able to reschedule missed appointments. While in-person driver’s tests were up and running for several months, the surge of COVID-19 cases in Dec. caused a suspension of tests until Feb. 1, 2021. Many had appointments canceled without guidance as to when they would be able to return in-person, creating a backlog of students in need of driver’s permits and licenses.

“I got my permit late, on June 11 and my license, also late, on Feb. 8,” sophomore Ava Johnson said. “When I was finally able to schedule my license I scheduled it for Dec. 12. However, the DMV closed all driving tests from Dec. 12 until Feb. 1, so again, I had to wait even longer.”

While the coronavirus precautions were the main cause of student’s delayed DMV interactions, others were forced to wait because of various outside factors.

“The process was messy,” sophomore Rebecca Simoni said. “Since I was born across the country it took eight months for my birth certificate to arrive and the DMV wasn’t taking appointments until the end of Aug. last year.”

When in-person visits to field offices were permitted, safety protocols were put in place. To account for COVID-19, only a limited number of customers are allowed in at once, everyone must wear a face covering, and both employees and customers must stand six feet apart at all times.

“The in-person process was good,” Johnson said. “I had to stand 6 feet apart when taking the permit test and the driving tester had to put a covering over the seat when they were in the car with me.”

All hopeful drivers must complete both driver’s education and on-road driver’s training, which looks different this year as well. Drivers education is a course designed to teach students the ins and outs of safe driving before getting a permit, and next, students must be instructed on the road with an approved licensed driver before taking the driver’s test.

“I waited outside at the DMV to take the permit test and they only let a few people inside, but other than that it was normal,” sophomore Devyn Wagner said. “For Driver’s Ed the teachers wear masks and keep the windows down.”

Although students feel that the task of getting a permit or license is more difficult this year, driving represents newfound freedom and is a milestone for teenagers all over the world. 

“My DMV experience was not that great because everything was always delayed,” Johnson said. “But at least I passed and now I can drive myself to practice and to get food.”

Currently, the DMV is scheduling new appointments and rescheduling previous ones for visits that require in-person interactions, but there is no guarantee that the process of getting a permit or license will go as expected. To schedule a virtual field office visit or learn how, when and where to get a driver’s permit or driver’s license, visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles for more information.