Clear the California DMV Backlog: Allow Licensed Driving Instructors to Approve Drivers

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Dear Governor Newsom,

Thank you for the quick and decisive action you took combating the spread of COVID-19 in California. We are grateful for the care you have taken to keep everyone safe.

Since March 19, California has enacted a shelter-in-place mandate. Consequently, the Department of Motor Vehicles has been closed for months. Because of this there is an approximate 120,000 backlogged behind the wheel driving tests in California, according to the SF Chronicle. 

At this rate it could take years for current permit holders to receive a license.

As we’re sure you’re aware, other states in the U.S., such as Georgia and Wisconsin, are allowing students to obtain their licenses. This is given that the student has completed six-hours with a driving instructor and 50 hours on the road with parents. Unlike these states, we suggest that the responsibility of approval be shifted to licensed driving instructors. 

It is imperative that teens receive their licenses for multiple public health reasons. Without the legal ability to drive, many will be forced to use public transit and carpool which will only support the spread of COVID-19. 

Many students live far away from their schools and have parents unable to drive them due to work. There are also families in which teen drivers are relied upon to drive siblings and elderly family members. Lastly, teens also work at essential businesses and need to be able to drive themselves to their jobs. 

Governor Newsom, thank you for considering our request. We know you understand the importance of teen licenses in preventing the spread of disease and allowing all California citizens to remain safe.

Sincerely,

Amelia Sandgren, Lucille Johnson, Jane Flad