- In a new executive order from Georgia’s governor, Brian P. Kemp, anyone over 16 with a learner’s permit can now get a driver’s license without taking a road test.
- The requirement was abandoned as part of social-distancing efforts by the state.
- The road tests will be skipped for the duration of the state of emergency, which currently runs until May 13 but could be extended.
In the latest dispatch from the Land Down Under South Carolina, the state of Georgia took a look at its driver’s license requirements and decided, “Nah.” The dreaded road test is no more—at least, for as long as Georgia remains under a state of emergency. Which, despite what you may have overheard in your favorite Decatur tattoo parlor, it is. No more classrooms, no more books, no more DMV test guy’s dirty looks as you roll through the third stop sign in three blocks. That’s according to the latest executive order, “Providing guidance for reviving a healthy Georgia is response to COVID-19.”
From now until . . . whenever, 16-to-18-year-olds who’ve had a driving permit for a year and a day can obtain a license merely by getting a parental OK and filling out an online form. So, along with everything else, parents are now moonlighting as DMV administrators. Step up, citizens of Atlanta, and make your kid sit in a sparsely furnished waiting room for a minimum of 90 minutes before being called to a counter only to learn they screwed up section 3a of the application form and now they have sit back down and start over.
While this executive order seemingly falls under the oft used heading of “Georgia Did What Now?” the practical implications will likely be nil. Because, as Georgia is tacitly admitting, the driver’s license road test is a joke. It’s driving as rote memorization, quantifying test-taking aptitude rather than anything to do with car control or emergency reactions. Although, now that’s it’s up to parents, a driving test certainly could include some new parameters, couldn’t it? Fine, Junior, you adjusted your mirror and buckled your seatbelt. But you spun halfway around the 360-degree drift, so that’s gonna be a fail, y’all.
The rationale for the relaxed road testing stems from social distancing—it’s hard to get six feet away when you’re strapped into the front seats of a Chevy Malibu. As an extension of that logic, if you’re a Georgian who recently turned 15, they’re going to let the permit-to-license rules slide a bit. According to the ancient writ of the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services, teens need to hold a permit for a year and a day before applying for a full-fledged license. But since the permit tests are also on hold, anyone who turned 15 since March 14 can get a waiver on the year-and-a-day rule and get a license when they turn 16. Permitted teens are still supposed to do 40 hours of supervised driving, but who’s counting?
It’ll be interesting to see, years from now, whether Georgia’s group of un-road-tested drivers prove any less safe than the ones who passed their test. We’re guessing that the data will show the driver’s license road test for what it is: a technicality. Now get out there, Georgia teens, and drive to the gym for a hot sweaty workout!