New drivers in limbo for permits and licenses, other drivers see adjusted licensing rules

By Steve Fountain | Special to the Katy Times
Posted 4/2/20

While the Class of 2020 waits to see if they will get to walk the stage for graduation, another teen-age right-of-passage is also in limbo due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the government offices …

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New drivers in limbo for permits and licenses, other drivers see adjusted licensing rules

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While the Class of 2020 waits to see if they will get to walk the stage for graduation, another teen-age right-of-passage is also in limbo due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the government offices closing due to the Coronavirus pandemic are the Texas Department of Public Safety offices, including the one at 2302 W. Dickinson Blvd. in Fort Stockton.

“It's a challenging time,” said Sgt. Oscar Villarreal, who handles media communications for DPS out of its Midland office. “Right now, we cannot license someone. I wish we could relieve public stress, a lot of people are asking 'what do I do?'”

Villarreal said while the state has extended expiration dates for drivers who have a license, there is no option for someone seeking their learner's permit or their first driver's license.

So, although a teen-ager or new driver may have completed all the requirements, there is no means for them to take their driving test. Likewise, someone who has completed all the instruction and paperwork to obtain a learner's permit has no means to turn that paperwork in to be issued a permit.

Other drivers

Among his emergency action, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott delayed the expiration of Texas drivers licenses, personal identification cards, commercial drivers licenses (CDL), electronic election certificates (EIC).

If one of these documents expire on or after March 13, 2020, holders are granted a waiver for the expiration date for 60 days after the state provides resumes normal operations, at which time holders will be able to renew without any penalty.

Villarreal said people whose license has expired – but are otherwise in good standing as a license holder – are free to drive on the expired license. However, someone whose license was suspended or restricted are still not able to legally drive under the emergency order.

In the interim, however, you must download a copy of the Verification of Driver License Expiration Extension notice from https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/documents/extndExpDateDL.pdf.

Many Texas drivers license and identification card holders are eligible to renew their cards, address change, or receive a replacement online at https://txapps.texas.gov/tolapp/txdl/?utm_source=texasgov&utm_medium=popsearch&utm_campaign=drivers_2019.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may accept an expired Texas drivers license or identification card as valid identification for domestic flights up to 12 months after expiration.

New residents

New Texas residents can legally drive with a valid, unexpired driver license from another U.S. state, U.S. territory, Canadian province, or qualifying country for up to 90 days after moving to Texas. For more information, go to: https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/ApplyforLicense.htm

 CDL drivers

To ensure commercial drivers are able to continue to work during the national emergency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration temporarily waived compliance for medical certificates expiring from March 1, 2020 until June 30, 2020. The state will continue to process medical certificates received, and will discontinue the downgrade of CDLs for expired medical certificates. When the department resumes normal operations, drivers will be able to renew without any penalty.

A CDL driver with a medical certificate or a hazardous material endorsement that is expired, may continue to use their current card until June 30, 2020.

FMCSA is also waiving the 14-day requirement to hold a commercial learner permit before skills testing can be conducted. At this time, the commercial driver license offices that are conducting skills tests will continue to prioritize testing for those drivers who have held the CLP for 14 days or longer. CDL Third-Party Skills Test providers may prioritize drivers who were already scheduled for testing or may waive the 14-day requirement, depending on their business need. This waiver expires June 30, 2020.

Effective March 28, 2020, FMCSA issued a three-month waiver for Commercial Learners Permit (CLP) holders operating commercial motor vehicles during the COVID-19 response. The waiver is in effect until June 30, 2020 and allows a CLP holder to operate a commercial motor vehicle without having a commercial driver license (CDL) holder in the front seat, as long as the CDL holder is present elsewhere in the cab. The CLP holder must have successfully passed the CDL skills test and must keep a copy of the test with them while driving. Furthermore, the CLP holder must have a valid driver license and medical certificate or meet the expiration extension requirements. The benefit of this waiver will allow CLP drivers to continue their training, due to the closures of state departments of motor vehicle facilities. For more information, please visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

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