Reporting Mike Binkley
ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (WCCO) – Some young Minnesota drivers are learning about stalled traffic before they even get their drivers licenses.
Outside the state’s DMV testing stations, cars filled with hopeful teens and their parents are often lined up for hours, starting well before sunrise.
The earliest available appointments for the driving test are six weeks away, so they wait in the parking lot hoping for a no-show.
Cretin-Derham Hall student Maddie Lee, 16, was into her ninth hour of waiting Wednesday when we met her outside the Arden Hills station, windows rolled down and the seats reclined.
“Yeah, it’s my second time taking (the test),” she said, “and I really want to get it this time.”
Lindsey Chinander, 16, is a student at St. Francis High School. She used up her cell phone battery, trying to pass the time. When she arrived at 4:30 a.m., there were several others ahead of her.
Chinander and Lee each made enough little mistakes when they took the test the first time, the examiner said they had to come back. But the Arden Hills station is booked through the third week in October.
“This is the busiest time of the year,” said Mark Larson, the regional supervisor. “It’s the crush right before all the kids go back to school. They all want to take their tests. They all want to drive to school.”
Waiting in a warm car for nine or 10 hours after an early wake-up doesn’t make it any easier.
“It’s a really long time to wait,” said Chinander, “and you’re nervous the whole time.”
The Arden Hills station takes 80 appointments a day, and often has 50 others waiting in the lot.
The best advice for other teens facing this wait – come prepared.
“We always recommend practice, practice, practice,” said Larson, “so you only need to go through this process once.”
Larson said the backlog isn’t nearly as long outside the metro.
If you’re willing to drive a little farther — to somewhere like Little Falls or Alexandria — you could make an appointment just four weeks from now.