What To Expect at the DMV amid COVID-19

Licensing and motor vehicle departments across the country were forced to temporarily close up their offices because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although offices are reopening, the closure and concerns over coronavirus spread have had a lasting effect. 

Is your local licensing office still closed? Is the state offering an extension on expired permits and licenses? What do you need to prepare before an in-person visit?

Below is a quick rundown of DMV rules and regulations amid COVID-19 as of August 2020.

General DMV COVID-19 Regulations 

Each state has the right to specify their own pandemic safety measures. That said, there are some COVID-19 regulations that almost every state is implementing:

  • Encouraging and enabling the use of online services in lieu of in-person visits whenever possible. 

  • Limiting walk-in services.

  • Practicing the six-foot social distancing standard whenever possible.

  • Wearing a face mask while in the office and during road tests.

  • Equipping employees with personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • Making hand sanitizer readily available.

Because the regulations can vary from one office to the next, it’s always best to check your state DMV website or call the office you intend to visit for guidance on the latest rules. You should get answers to the following questions before visiting your local branch:

  • Is the office you plan to visit open or operating under reduced hours?

  • Are there special hours of operation for certain services/customers?

  • Does the office currently provide the service you need? 

What Else Are States Doing to Prevent COVID-19 Spread? 

Nearly all states currently have some type of specific COVID-19-related regulations in place. Here are some of the most common DMV reopening rules and regulations:

  • Appointments only. Many DMV offices require that all in-person services be by appointment only. This helps the office limit the number of customers at the facility so that social distancing is possible.

  • Changing behind-the-wheel test regulations. Most states are once again conducting road tests, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place.

  • Requiring symptom screenings upon arrival. States including Florida and Kansas will do a symptom screening the moment you arrive. If you have a fever or show symptoms you’ll be denied entry into the facility.

  • Offering extensions to cut down on in-person visits. Many state licensing departments have extended the deadlines for licenses and motor vehicle services.

How Have Road Tests Been Affected? 

States have primarily handled road tests during the pandemic in one of three ways:

  • Offering a road test waiver to certain drivers that meet requirements.

  • Canceling road tests for the time being.

  • Providing modified road tests.

Wisconsin, North Carolina and Mississippi are among the states that have offered a road test waiver. And in Washington, they’ve turned it into a road test waiver pilot program that may become permanent. 

Pennsylvania is among the few states that still have closed DMV offices and aren’t offering road tests. That could also be the case at the local level if a region is experiencing an outbreak and offices temporarily close.

Other states, like Ohio, California and Georgia, have come up with modified versions of behind-the-wheel testing. In California, a mask is a must while driving and at least two windows have to be rolled down to increase ventilation. Ohio and Georgia exam administrators won’t be in the vehicle during the drive. Instead, they are observing the performance on a closed course and a licensed parent or guardian will be in the vehicle.

What Types of Extensions Are Being Offered?

At the beginning of the pandemic when most of the country shut down, it became clear that some people were going to run into a problem. Their licenses and registrations were about to expire and they couldn’t go into an office to renew them. 

The solution for most states was to grant a short-term extension. The extensions mostly apply to:

  • Drivers license renewal

  • Vehicle registration renewal

  • Permit extensions

  • Extended renewal extensions for seniors

  • Extensions on testing window timelines

Some extensions have already expired and others are set the end by September 30, 2020. Other states are offering a more generous extension of 90-120 days past the original expiration date or not requiring renewal until the beginning of 2021. If your drivers license or learners permit is expiring soon check with the local DMV for guidance on when and how you can renew it. 

Is There a Timeline for the DMV COVID-19 Rules and Regulations?

In many states the rules and regulations are set to remain in place until a COVID-19 treatment and/or vaccine is available or until the pandemic is over. There are some states that have specified the new regulations will be in effect until the end of 2020. 

Check back in regularly for the latest updates on DMV COVID-19 rules and regulations.

*This article was updated on 8/25/2020