DMV considers making road test waiver permanent

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -A program that started during the pandemic may become a permanent option for teens looking to get their license.

The Department of Motor Vehicles said it does about 2,100 road tests a week.

When the pandemic paused its operations, the backlog of teens needing to get that test grew.

To solve the problem, it turned to a road test waiver program.

For more than a month, programs like Safety & Respect Driving School in Eau Claire had to pause the hands-on portion of driver’s training.

“When we were allowed to open back up with behind the wheel, we knew that we were going to be behind, and I mean, really behind,” said Marty Fadness, the owner of Safety & Respect Driving School.

Fadness made a plan.

“During the shut down phase, we tried to jump ahead of things a little bit,” Fadness said. “From a hiring perspective we tried to add some additional instructors. We tried to add some additional cars to our fleet, so that when the state said go, we could dive into this thing and catch up.”

While some students were waiting to get into the car for the first time, others who had already completed all their training were waiting to get their license.

To deal with that delay, the DMV launched the road test waiver program.

“That waiver program then once they turn 16, and they’ve had six months of--with their temps, and all those lessons with us, then they can do the waiver, and the parents have to basically co-sign with them to do that,” said Dennis Johnson, a driving instructor with Accountable Driver Education.

When the waiver program started, instructors like Johnson thought it’d be a temporary fix to a pandemic created problem.

As it looks to become a permanent option, Johnson has some doubts.

“Now the problem with that system, and we have no input, is that we get a few students who are not capable of driving yet, and parents can say, ‘Well we want to give them a waiver. We don’t want to have to do it,’” Johnson said. “If they had taken the road test, they may fail.”

Even with the waiver program in place, road tests are still available.

Families can choose to make their teen take the test to get their license.

If this program remains after the pandemic, Wisconsin would join both Iowa and Nebraska in offering this waiver.

For more about the program, click HERE.

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