Not so fast: New Georgia drivers will have to take a road test after all

Byron Hurd



Some 20,000 new drivers in Georgia will have to complete a driving test despite having already acquired a license, officials said Tuesday, as the state ended most of the social distancing initiatives prompted by the coronavirus.

Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order Tuesday clarifying the guidelines for retroactive testing. Per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the administration always intended for testing merely to be postponed, not waived entirely. New drivers will have until Sept. 30 to complete the test, or their licenses will be suspended. 

In late April, Georgia officials announced that new drivers could forego practical testing in order to obtain a license, eliminating a critical step in the state's graduated licensing process that was made more complicated by the shutdowns imposed to slow the spread of the virus.

The suspension of testing lasted the duration of Georgia’s Public State of Emergency, which expired Wednesday. The head-spinning decision eliminated the road test each new driver is normally required to pass in order to obtain a license to make the process comply with social distancing guidelines.

Simultaneously, the state green-lit the opening of businesses including gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair and nail salons, estheticians and massage therapists, and theaters and restaurants were already in consideration as well. As of this week, the state is effectively open for business. 

When the waiver was announced, the state said it had a backlog of approximately 30,000 people who hadn't yet taken the test. Of those, approximately 20,000 obtained licenses without completing the road test portion. The Georgia Department of Driver Services said that approximately 5,000 new drivers are tested in a normal week.