Georgia governor eliminates driving test requirement for teens due to coronavirus pandemic

New Georgia drivers will not be required to take a road test in order to get their license.

New Georgia drivers will not be required to take a road test in order to get their license.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced in an April 23 executive order that -- provided they meet all other requirements -- those holding instructional permits can qualify for their licenses without the “comprehensive on-the-road driving test.”

That means teens can get their license when they turn 16 without getting in a car with a test administrator.

Kim Feighner, who lives in St. Marys, said her 17-year-old son, Joshua, has had his permit for a year and was going online to get his license.

“We went online. We got the account set up, and apparently the site is down, so maybe a lot of people are taking advantage. I’m not sure," Feighner told News4Jax on Thursday.

Drivers turning 15 years old from March 14 through May 13 will not have to take a road test to get their license. You have to have your permit for at least 12 months and it cannot be suspended. If you meet that, you’ll be able to go online and get your license if you meet all other requirements. Those other requirements include being of legal age to drive, meeting school attendance and driving training requirements.

According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services website:

  • If you are 16-18 and have a learner’s permit for 1 year and 1 day with no violations, you will be able to renew and process your license. If you have violations, you will not be able to upgrade.
  • If you are over 18 and have a learner’s permit, you can renew and process your license.
  • Any driver over 17, with no current license or permit, must schedule an appointment to take the appropriate knowledge exams.

“I don’t think just passing a test is enough. I think him getting the time behind the wheel is just a confidence builder," Feighner said.

The change is in effect until the expiration of the state’s Public Health State of Emergency, which Kemp has extended to May 13.

The executive order also outlined social distancing measures for the state, which Kemp has begun to loosen starting April 24.

Georgia's gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair and nail salons, estheticians and massage therapists were the first to open, with restrictions, followed by theaters and restaurants three days later.

The governor's decision is at odds with statements from the mayors of cities including Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah, as well as a data model cited often by the White House.

Georgia should not even begin to reopen until June 22, according to the model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which assumes states will implement aggressive testing, contact tracing, isolation and crowd-size limits to prevent more infections.

“I’ve done the best that I can using my voice as mayor to just say to people to use your common sense,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN Friday.


About the Authors:

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.