WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — New drivers around the state looking to get their licenses are hitting roadblocks.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles had to catch up from a COVID backlog. Now retirements and crunch time with school starting are adding to the frustration.
Despite Governor Lamont’s COVID extension for drivers permits, Jennifer Tyrrell’s niece had a tough time at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“She was four days short and had to go through the system again,” said Tyrrell.
Brandon Dufour, Chief Executive Officer of The Next Street Driving School, says the backlog at DMV is frustrating.
“We can’t have people waiting this long for a license test. It’s workforce development, people are unable to drive for jobs. It’s people unable to help their family with errands, or other needs.”
In addition to more DMV staff, he says requiring anyone over 22 years old to test at DMV instead of onsite at a driving school with a specially outfitted car is short-sighted.
“If they’re testing at the DMV branch, they don’t have a car and so it becomes this ceiling over their head where they’re unable to get out of a poverty situation,” added Dufour.
News 8 asked DMV Deputy Commissioner Tony Guerrera for answers.
“We’re probably going to see this for a few months that we’re going to offer a lot of overtime and a lot of super Mondays so we can try to help alleviate some of the issues,” Guerrera said.
Guerrera says during the last three years, DMV has done tens of thousands of road tests.
During the COVID shutdown in 2020, only 27,000 tests were completed, creating the backlog.
In 2019, DMV completed 45,442 road tests. In 2021, DMV completed 48,600 road tests.
Recent retirements mean fewer agents giving tests. Add to that a new school year.
“That means going out inspecting bus companies, inspecting the buses, making sure the paperwork is processed, checking the background of the school bus drivers. There’s a whole slew of information that our agents do,” explained Guerrera.
DMV has hired 11 new agents. Test appointments are given quarterly.
If DMV cancels, instead of students waiting for months to reschedule, DMV now dispatches a special unit.
“We’re trying to have a SWAT team in place, these are traveling agents,” Guerrera said.
News 8 noticed a car from Epic Driving School at the DMV hub in Wethersfield, some 60 miles away from its Danbury location.
“Maybe we need to streamline this process in a different manner,” Guerrera admitted.
What about the mandated branch testing for anyone over 22?
“Now we’re seeing that maybe some of the driving schools would like to have older individuals do it so that [is] something [we] will look at in the future,” added Guerrera.
In the next few weeks, DMV will be making more branches full service to try and help out with the backlog. They are also inviting all of the driving school owners to the table in order to talk about modernizing the permit test, possibly doing it online and other solutions.