In a gesture toward joining the 21st Century and reducing the amount of time you have to spend at a physical DMV office, the California DMV is now going to let you take written exams online.
It's called the Driver’s License Knowledge Test, and in addition to being required of first-time license applicants, it's required of those applying for a new CA license after moving here from out of state, applying for a Real ID for the first time, renewing your license not within a specific window near its expiration date, and it's required every five years for renewal for drivers over the age of 70. The California DMV has now created an online test-taking option — with a browser extension download required, and some sort of monitoring to prevent cheating — and they're also allowing renewing drivers to take a 45-minute online knowledge course with quizzes, sort of like online traffic school, as an option in lieu of taking the test.
"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," says DMV Director Steve Gordon in a statement. "We continue to incorporate ways to bring DMV services to our customers when and where they want."
License renewal applicants, Real ID applicants, and first-time licensees will still have to make an appointment at a physical DMV field office to submit necessary documents, take a vision exam, and provide their thumbprint, but the exam portion can at least be done at home.
The test can be taken online twice, and if a person fails it twice, they will have to take it in person the third time. It can only be taken between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. And the test is available in 35 languages.
For those moving to CA from another state, the online knowledge course is not an option.
As KRON4 reports, safeguards are in place to prevent cheating, including keyboard monitoring, voice monitoring, and webcams, and the online test can only be taken on a computer, not on a phone or tablet.
The federal government's Real ID requirement for domestic travel, which had been scheduled to take effect already, got pushed out to May 3, 2023 due to the pandemic. After that point, you will need to have a Real ID or show your passport to board any plane, even if you're not leaving the country.
So, in the next year, you may be in the market for renewing for CA driver's license and getting a Real ID — as this PSA posted to LinkedIn explains, if you're not close to your five-year renewal on your license, you have the option to simply upgrade your license to a Real ID without taking taking the written exam, but you'll keep your existing expiration date and have to take the exam eventually to renew.
Photo: Andrew D./Yelp