by Natalie Roe, A&E editor
Getting your driver’s license in 2020 isn’t as different as you might think. While there are new safety precautions due to the ongoing pandemic, most of what you would expect from learning to drive is the same.
The “drivers ed” portion to get your permit is the same, for instance. You can still do this online and then take the written test at the DMV.
The DMV has six-feet-apart and mask mandates, as do most other businesses, as well as a new online waiting feature: you can see your position in line through the link they give you via text so that you can wait outside or in your car. Waiting times can range from 10 minutes to around an hour on busy days.
The behind the wheel lessons are probably the most different, which doesn’t say much considering the only changes are mask wearing, cracked windows, and sanitization after each student. Probably one of the biggest changes is that during the lesson you will not pick up or drop off other students; instead, the instructor will arrive at your address, and after you finish the lesson, drive you back to your address to be dropped off.
“I had a lesson with All Good Driving School. My instructor wore a mask and sanitized the wheel and interior,” said Baron Condiotti, a junior at Maria Carrillo High School, when asked about his behind-the-wheel lesson. Despite the regulations, Condiotti mentioned that he enjoyed the lesson. “It was fun! We practiced parking at Piner High School in the parking lot, and then he had me drive out to Sebastopol.”
When Condiotti went to the DMV, he got in the socially-distanced line where he was pre-screened. They asked him what his purpose was and checked to make sure he had all the right documents. He went to the Petaluma DMV, which followed the same regulations as the Santa Rosa branch. “I was given a sterile pen to fill out some paperwork, my picture was taken, I took a knowledge test, and finally, signed and dated my new driver’s permit,” Condiotti said.
Taking your photo at the DMV, which you’ll do for your license when you apply for the permit, is very similar to picture day at most schools. You wait in line again, and when you have been given the okay by the person taking your picture, you can remove your mask.
The driving test follows the same criteria as the behind the wheel lessons in terms of safety, but is composed the same way as it normally is; you will not be doing anything differently in terms of driving than in the past.
Getting your license is now easier and safer than ever, and with many people pushing it off due to COVID, now is the time to learn to drive.