Should CA Allow Online Driver's Tests? Readers Weigh In

CALIFORNIA — Drivers and prospective drivers in California were recently given the ability to both renew a license and take a first time written driver's test online, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced last month.

The state joins Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Vermont and W. Virginia in offering online test options. Virginia has online proctored testing through participating schools, a DMV spokesperson told Patch.

Californians renewing a license with a knowledge test and adult drivers applying for a license for the first time will have two options. They will be able to choose from a remote version of the traditional test and an interactive eLearning course, according to release from the DMV. Drivers can choose after filling out the online application and paying a fee.

In a recent non-scientific survey, 3,108 Patch readers shared their opinion on the new testing options. The survey appeared in questionnaire form last week and is meant not to be a scientific poll but only to give a broad idea of public sentiment.

We asked readers: Should Californians be able to complete a first-time driver's license test online?

  • 50.2 percent said "no."

  • 39.6 percent said "yes."

  • 10.2 percent were unsure.

Half of respondents were sure footed in the opinion that first time drivers should not be able to take a test online.

When we asked readers whether Californians should be able to renew a license, responders overwhelmingly agreed that they should be afforded that luxury.

We asked readers: should Californians be able to RENEW a driver's license online?

  • 93 percent said "yes."

  • 4.6 percent said "no."

  • 2.3 percent were unsure.

"This is one more example of how the DMV is modernizing to add more convenient services online that used to be only available in an office," said DMV Director Steve Gordon. "We continue to incorporate ways to bring DMV services to our customers when and where they want."

The online exam is available for nearly 2 million tests taken by Californians renewing their license each year, more than 1.3 million tests taken by adults getting their license for the first time and Californians getting a REAL ID or motorcycle license for the first time.

The online test is available in 35 languages to customers who have an internet-enabled computer or laptop with a webcam, the DMV said. The test cannot be taken on a tablet or mobile device. Californians can begin the online exam between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays.

The move to make online testing available was meant to reduce wait times at DMV offices.

We asked readers to share their opinions on the new online testing:

My second answer is conditional on having established and maintained a clean driving record.

With Covid and the long lines at dmv the answer to the two above questions is absolutely yes.

Online testing will decrease the stress of trying to get an appointment and gives you the flexibility as well. It will also ease the frustration of going to DMV and the long lines.

It would be easy to get another person take the test.

Too many ways to cheat. Californians can't drive very well as it is. This will just make it easy for people to get a license that probably shouldn't!

If they never had any accidents or DUI's would make online testing perfect.

A driver can have anyone take the test for them. I think if a driver hasn't had any tickets for a period of three-five years it is ok to take the online test up to a certain age. After age 65 they should appear in person. I am 82 and feel it is important for the safety of myself and others I take the test every five or so years to keep up with the changes.

I have seen the cheating that went on with schools being online. When they cae back to being in-person, they commented how it was much harder and they actually had to study for in-person tests. Renewal tests should be fine, but not first time.

What prevents someone from reading the answers from their booklet while taking the test. The way people drive now they seem to forget what they learned after taking the test!

Any driver over the age of 75 should show up in person to take test so you can ascertain ability. If they do on line anybody can help them. My neighbor is almost 90 and in my opinion he should not be driving and yet he has a license renewed to age 95!

Why make it easier? We already have terrible drivers on the road. It’s become dangerous on the freeway! And this is a scam just to get more “Californians” to vote Democrat. And 35 languages? How can drivers read signs? THEY CAN’T!!! This is infuriating.

The wait times at the DMV are ridiculous. Good idea to offer online services!

This article originally appeared on the Across California Patch