Driving schools offering a way to bypass DOT pandemic license restrictions

Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 6:57 PM CDT
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State agencies like the North Dakota Department of Transportation are restricting public access to facilities. This leaves many to forgo appointments they've been looking forward to, like a first drivers license test.

The Department of Transportation has halted in-person appointments for driver licenses in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, 1st Geer Driving School has no plans to pumping the breaks when it comes to helping kids safely get where they want to go, through a waiver that bypasses DOT's in-person restrictions.

It's a rite of passage for many teens.

"I'm really excited to be one step closer to getting my license and being closer to being an adult," says Bismarck Resident Kaitlynn Christensen.

However, her plans were almost kicked to the curb due to COVID-19.

"I'm like, 'oh my gosh.' It's almost my birthday. I can't do drivers ed. I'm not even close to getting my license. So, how is that going to work?" she says.

But, restrictions don't need to pose an obstacle.

"If a student opts to do the road test waiver, it allows them a freedom in a sense they can be making progress during this time," says 1st Geer Driving School Owner Jed Geer.

As of now, traditional means are not available.

"Somebody getting their license for the first time, right now we aren't taking any of those appointments. We want to keep our staff and our customers safe," says North Dakota Department of Transportation Drivers License Division Director Brad Schaffer.

The school now overcoming a viral roadblock no one had foreseen.

"We're making sure they know how to control the car. We're making sure they know how to make lane changes. We're making sure they know how to drive on one-ways, Geer says. "

Kids can still cruise toward their dream at the age of 15.

"You get to have the experience of being by yourself and being independent," Christensen says.

With the help of Geer's school and a little gasoline.

1st Geer is listed by the DOT as certified to fulfill the state's general driver training requirements for licenses.

Geer says he plans to offer an online version of the required thirty hour class instruction in the near future along with his behind-the-wheel course.

Schaffer says the DOT is planning on expanding license services once the pandemic calms as well.