By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
Georgia’s newest drivers will still need to pass the road test to receive their licenses later this year after state officials suspended the test in recent weeks due to concerns over coronavirus.
Gov. Brian Kemp clarified the need to take and pass the test at a news conference Tuesday, despite previous guidance from the state that had suspended testing requirements for drivers including teenagers who already received learners permits.
“They’re still going to have to come back and take the driver’s test,” Kemp said.
“That was always the case,” he added. “We just wanted to clarify that.”
An executive order Kemp issued Tuesday makes clear the road test “was only temporarily suspended” and that drivers still need to complete it. Anyone who received a driver’s license without doing so in recent weeks must take the test by Sept. 30 in order to keep their license.
According to the order, examiners with the state Department of Driver Services (DDS) must administer the test while riding in the vehicle with a testing driver or “by remote means.” Drivers also need to schedule an appointment online with the agency before showing up to a DDS office to take the road test.
It remains to be seen what exactly “remote” road testing entails. DDS spokeswoman Susan Sports said in an email Wednesday that the agency “is developing a way to comply with the new executive order but [does] not have any details at this time.”
Nearly 20,000 teens in Georgia had received provisional licenses without having to take the test as of May 5, the most recent day that data is available, Sports said. Those teens all had their learners permits for more than a year and meet mandatory training and educational requirements, she added.
The governor’s previous executive order issued April 23 stated drivers would “not be required to complete a comprehensive on-the-road driving test,” clearly signifying the testing requirement would be suspended for as long as that executive order was in place.
That order also stated drivers with learners permits (Class CP) would not need to wait the usual 12 months before being eligible to take the test for their provisional license (Class C). As of Wednesday, the DDS website noted that waiver is still in effect.
The updated requirements for driver road tests come as Kemp continues winding down some social-distancing requirements for businesses like restaurants, gyms and other close-contact establishments.
However, bars, nightclubs and live-performance venues will remain closed through at least the end of May.