On April 23, 2020, an executive order passed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp temporarily dropped the road test requirement for teens and adults who have met all other requirements. This order forced the state Department of Driver Services to suspend a regulation that teens and other new drivers had to pass a road skills examination before they could receive a new or upgraded license. According to Spencer Moore, the commissioner at the Department of Driver Services, “what the executive order does, it allows the teen driver to go to that next phase without having to take that road test because of social distancing problems, obviously, in trying to provide the test.” Instead, teens can apply for a provisional license on the DDS website and receive their driver’s license after meeting certain qualifications, including providing affidavits that they have completed about 40 hours of driver training either by a parent or instructor.
While the Covid-19 pandemic put an obvious pause on young drivers being able to take the test with an instructor due to concerns for social distancing, many believe that new drivers still need to pass a road skills test to prove they know what they’re doing.
Since the order was passed on April 23rd, almost 20,000 teenagers have been able to get their driver’s license. An alarming number that prompted many Georgia residents to speak out. Many parents and concerned citizens began writing to the governor, their House, or even their Senate representatives to explain that issuing a driver’s license to someone without asking them to pass the same standard test as every other licensed driver in the state of Georgia is a mistake. The order even prompted thousands to sign an online petition aimed at convincing Governor Kemp to reverse his April 23rd order. And it seems that the public outcry worked.
On May 12th, Governor Kemp lifted the previous order so that new drivers once again must take the hands-on test. According to Kemp, the new order will supersede the previous one, calling for the Department of Drivers Services to provide a process for all of the drivers who have been awarded a license during this time without previously completing a road test to now have to complete one no later than September 30, 2020. These tests will be monitored by an examiner either in the vehicle with the new driver, or remotely, according to Kemp’s new order.
The governor told the media that he signed the new order to make it clear that anyone who received their licenses without the road skills test must now pass one in order to keep their privileges. “Anybody who has gotten the driver’s license but hasn’t taken the test, even if they’ve met the criteria of so many hours on the road and went to driver’s school, they’re still going to have to come back and take the driver’s test,” said Governor Kemp.