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Wisconsin offers to waive road tests for 16, 17-year-olds

Starting May 11, parents and families will have the option of having their teen skip the actual driving road examination if they've met certain requirements.

MADISON, Wis. — Young drivers in Wisconsin could face one less obstacle to getting their license, after the state moved to give families the option of waiving road tests for 16 and 17-year-olds. 

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) posted on its social media sites that starting May 11, parents and families will have the option of having their teen skip the actual driving road examination if they've completed drivers training and met all the other requirements.

"Historically, 98% of 16-17-year-olds pass their road test on their first or second attempt," a Twitter post read.

The move comes as the state of Wisconsin launches a pair of pilot programs in response to backlogs created by the coronavirus pandemic. The other test program will let eligible drivers renew their licenses online, rather than at a DMV office.

Department of Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson says due to limiting office service hours and other steps taken to mitigate COVID-19, the agency has built up a backlog of 80,000 licenses that need renewing and 10,000 teens who need to take their driving test.

"Let me empathize that the road test is not going way, it is still required for many and it is an option for everyone," Thompson told NBC station WMTV. "I know a young person’s road test is a big ritual in life and can be a memorable day. This is not about taking that experience away for those who want it. It’s about government being responsive to real needs." 

At this time, Wisconsin DMV in-person services are limited to:

  • Commercial Driver Licenses (CDLs)
  • Voters needing identification and using the Voter ID Petition Process 
  • New Wisconsin residents who need a driver license or ID to vote

In Minnesota, road tests are not available while Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) exam stations are closed during the state's Stay at Home order, which is currently extended through May 18. Anyone who has a class D, commercial driver's license (CDL) or motorcycle test appointment scheduled during this time received a cancellation notice by email or text message.

All road test appointments canceled during the shutdown will be prioritized and rescheduled once exam stations reopen. DPS-DVS will call, email or text those affected to offer the first available day and time once normal operations resume.  

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