How Getting a Driver's License in Colorado Has Changed During the Pandemic

The pandemic has caused many areas of life to look and function quite differently than they did before 2020. One of the organizations that has been hit the hardest during the pandemic is the DMV. Locations across the country shut down at the beginning of last spring, and while most have reopened, they are generally operating under an appointment-only basis in order to keep social distancing intact. As you might expect, being shut down for months caused a long backlog of appointments, which means the current state of visiting the DMV is still far from normal.

This state of affairs has left young aspiring drivers who are eager to take all of the steps necessary to get their licenses, as well as seasoned drivers looking to renew theirs, unsure of how to proceed. While each individual DMV location will vary slightly in how it’s moving forward, here are a few general and Colorado-specific things to keep in mind during this chaotic time:

Expect Long Wait Times for a DMV Appointment or a Third Party Road Test

For in-person services, many DMVs in Colorado are still experiencing long wait times due to the limited availability of open appointments. They have tried to curb this inconvenience by making certain services available online, such as drivers license/ID renewals as well as vehicle registration renewals. Being aware of what you can do online can save you valuable time that would be spent waiting for an empty spot to open up.

 

If you need to make an in-person appointment at your DMV, you can select which service you are looking for here, and then you will be able to find open appointments for the different DMVs throughout Colorado.

While the written permit test is still being conducted at the DMV, road tests in Colorado are not. In order for student drivers to complete their license tests, they must go through a third party tester. Because driving schools are now functioning as the sole providers of the driving skills test, don’t be surprised if instant appointments are hard to find.

Colorado Drivers Education Has Become More Accessible Online

One good thing that seems to have come out of the pandemic is that Colorado, along with many states, has expanded the ways in which teenagers are able to take drivers ed. In addition to traditional self-paced online drivers ed courses and limited in-person classes, Colorado is continuing to allow driving schools to offer live-online classes via platforms like Zoom, which is a good option for those who prefer the engagement of traditional classes but still want to social-distance as much as possible.

Additionally, this helps make drivers education more accessible for students from rural areas or students whose parents are unable to drive them to a physical location. One thing to keep in mind is that not every online course will meet the DMV requirements in Colorado, so always seek out a program that is state-approved.

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Out for Shifting Rules Regarding Permits and Drivers Licenses

Many news stories made the headlines last year when states like Wisconsin and Georgia elected to drop the road test requirement for permit-holding teens looking to get their drivers licenses (as long as their parents vouched that they’ve practiced enough). The move sparked controversy, as much of the public felt that most parents are not certified driving instructors who can properly and objectively assess whether their sons and daughters possess the skills needed to safely operate a vehicle without supervision. Now, however, drivers have to take a modified, contactless road test.

This is all said to illustrate that drivers license regulations are changing across the country, and what officials allow can very well change from one moment to the next. While the vaccine rollout here in Colorado is looking promising, there is still uncertainty in the air as to how the next year will unfold.

Keeping up with these ever-changing, oftentimes pedantic, laws can be exhausting, and due to the high-volume of incoming calls, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to call the DMV and ask for quick clarification. Instead, frequently checking your local DMV’s website and following your DMV and local drivers education providers on social media can help you stay up-to-date.

Closing Up

Getting a drivers license is a right of passage that most teenagers have looked forward to throughout their entire lives, and it’s unfortunate that the pandemic served as such a roadblock for the many young people who were looking forward to getting behind the wheel over the last spring and summer.

However, the bright side is that most states have resumed operations and modified the path towards becoming a licensed driver to be accessible without compromising safety. If you’re looking forward to getting your license, staying informed on the shifting landscape of your local DMV will help you reach this great milestone, even if the process of doing so takes a little longer and veers from the traditional path.

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