Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Drive-by some DMV locations and you’ll see lines of cars at 4 a.m. — all hoping to land a chance to take the driver’s test.
Examiner vacancies and last year’s state government shutdown caused a backlog in testing which is still bogging down the system.
Many applicants say their wait is about two months before they can take a road test, and that has some eager drivers taking extreme measures to get around the roadblock.
For teens, it’s the first rite of passage into adulthood, with a driver’s license comes independence.
After hours of instruction and practice, Hanna Anderson was excited to take her driver’s test, but when she tried dropping in at the Anoka exam station she was told to come back and schedule an appointment.
Prepare to wait. Twin Cities applicants are encountering scheduling delays of two months, or more.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon says last year’s government shutdown and examiner retirements created a backlog.
It is made worse when applicants schedule multiple appointments, because a whopping 41 percent fail the test on their first try.
“We’ve encountered folks that are scheduling two or even three appointments, and that’s taking appointments away from other people who might need them,” Gordon said.
To get around the wait, many drivers line up at 4 a.m. outside exam sites in Plymouth, Eagan and Arden Hills. It’s first come, first served, once examiners are available.
“You see the line, it’s not even 8 a.m. and there’s 15 to 20 cars in line; so it’s crazy,” said Jim Gorney, an applicant’s father.
Gorney’s daughter is third in line. Amit Cherukuri and Ram Kalaga are near the front, both need licenses quickly to begin their new jobs at Honeywell.
“We cannot get an immediate appointment,” Cherukuri said. “We have to wait to get an appointment after two months.”
So while many play the waiting game, best advice is to practice so as to pass the first time.
There is one other way to almost guarantee getting tested, drive to less congested stations such as Little Falls, Alexandria, or Cambridge.