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State adds weekend appointments for driving exams

A backlog of exams has lead to long lines and months-long waits for appointments

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. — Overnight waits for walk-up driving exams and months-long delays for appointments have finally brought a fix from the state – albeit a temporary one.

On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced the addition of more than 3000 weekend appointments at three metro exam stations.

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“We are committed to serving Minnesotans and meeting their expectations,” DPS Commissioner John Harrington said in a news release. “That means taking a closer look at the way DVS exam stations operate and making necessary changes.”

The new Saturday and Sunday appointments can be scheduled now on the DVS website.  They are available in November and December at three exam stations: Plymouth, Arden Hills and Eagan.

The owner of A+ Driving School in White Bear Lake applauded the move.

“Anything helps,” Pete Hosmer said.  “Right now we’re probably booked out three-and-a-half months.”

Some people have resorted to camping in their cars overnight, to gain a coveted walk-up appointment at metro driving exam stations.

Others have traveled hundreds of miles to outstate exam stations with shorter waits for appointments.

Mike Schwarz of Shakopee says he and his wife have driven their 16-year-old twins to Elbow Lake (175 miles) Duluth (179 miles) and Redwood Falls (91 miles) the take driving exams.

With one daughter still trying to pass her test, on Thursday Schwarz’ wife will drive their daughter to Caledonia (163 miles) to take the test again.

“It was either that or we could have gotten in in Crookston", Schwarz said.

For the record, Crookston is 300 miles away.

Examiners will be paid overtime for their weekend work. 

“I don’t like the idea of more tax money being spent,” Schwarz said, “but it is what it is, we need to be able to drive.”

The state has created a task force to look for long-term solutions to the backlog of driving exams.

But DPS officials hope temporary weekend hours will provide some relief.

Hosmer hopes so too.

“Adding weekends is a step in the right direction, but overall I think they just need to find a way to hire more evaluators,” Hosmer said.

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