MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will soon allow 16 and 17-year-olds to get their driver’s license without completing a road test.

DMVs stopped doing road tests in mid-March because of COVID-19.

Now, WisDOT is waiving road tests amid the pandemic, beginning May 11, according to an announcement on Tuesday.

People under the age of 18 who have completed their required training and have the endorsement of a parent or guardian will be able to get a probationary driver license without completing a test.

These are the complete requirements:

  • They must hold an Instruction Permit (also known as a Learners Permit) violation free for at least six months prior to testing
  • They must have completed driver education classes
  • They must have completed behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor
  • They must have completed at least 30 hours of driving with their parent/sponsor and their sponsor must sign the road test waiver

Administrators caution that the waiver is not mandatory. Parents can still schedule a road test at a DMV beginning on May 8. Testing, by appointment only, will start on May 26. The DMV says examiners will use a seat cover in the driver’s car and wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

However, they are also estimating a backlog of 16,000 road test requests. Approximately 10,000 of those requests are eligible for the road test waiver.

WisDOT says it typically holds 2,100 road tests per week. About 65% of these exams are for people under the age of 18 years old — 98% of whom pass on their first or second attempt.

Another pilot program intended to address the state’s backlog on demand will allow eligible people with an expired Wisconsin driver license to renew it online, beginning May 11.

As of May, 80,000 drivers have expired licenses that need to be renewed. WisDOT says the late fees will be waived and people will have until July 25, 2020 to renew.

There are the requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen with a regular (Class D) driver license (Commercial Driver Licenses do not qualify)
  • You must be 64 years of age or under
  • You must not have any new medical restrictions
  • You must not have had a negative change in your vision since the last renewal

If you renew online, you’ll be instructed to print your confirmation email and use this document until you new card arrives by mail within 10 days. There is still a $34 renewal fee.

The goal is to eliminate the need for in-person visits to the DMV by allowing residents to do what they need to do online.

The changes are expected to continue through the 2020 calendar year, according to a release.

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