More students heading to DMV for driving permit or license test after it was closed down earlier because of the coronavirus pandemic

Junior+Manishi+Jayasuriya+celebrates+getting+her+driving+permit+from+the+Department+of+Motor+Vehicles+%5BDMV%5D+in+Fullerton.+Jayasuria+has+been+waiting+for+a+month+to+take+her+DMV+permit+test+because+the+facility+has+been+closed+because+of+COVID-19+health+and+safety+protocols.+

Image printed with permission from Janudi Jayasuria

Junior Manishi Jayasuriya celebrates getting her driving permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles [DMV] in Fullerton. Jayasuria has been waiting for a month to take her DMV permit test because the facility has been closed because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Divya Bharadwaj

Red light. The novel coronavirus shuts down the Department of Motor Vehicles [DMV] throughout California on March 27, 2020. 

Yellow light. Last May, 25 selected field offices opened for customers with appointments and provided limited services. 

Green light. Then a month later on June 11, all 169 state DMV offices opened to everyone willing to go.

Whether it be to take the permit test or get their drivers license, more Sunny Hills students have been heading to the DMV either because they couldn’t earlier when the COVID-19 pandemic got worse or because an increased number is eligible. 

As of May 17, DMV officials said they do not have an exact number of teens who received their permit or license during the pandemic, but they are encouraging them to apply through the REAL ID process.

Junior Manishi Jayasuria turned 16 in March and headed to the DMV to start driving as soon as possible. She got her license seven months after her permit instead of the normal six months. 

From her experience, she noticed that the DMV was taking the proper precautions as she saw employees promoting social distancing. She also found hand sanitizer to always be available. 

“I was nervous at first because I was worried about the permit test and about how many people would be there, but once we got to the DMV it was fine,” said Jayasuriya, who did not make an appointment at the Fullerton DMV and had to wait around 25 minutes. “I would return to the DMV as needed because they’ve taken more precautions now, and it seems pretty safe to go.” 

She tries to drive whenever she leaves her house to get practice, especially with her drivers license test approaching. 

Unlike Jayasuria, senior Zachary Chrisostomo made an appointment online before the pandemic. Once the Whittier DMV opened for appointments, he had to make another appointment there because all existing appointments were canceled prior to its closure. 

“It was easier to get an appointment [for my license] because the DMV prioritized people who had existing appointments,” said Chrisostomo, who passed his driving test. 

In his experience, the DMV took precautions and made sure everyone inside practiced social distancing, and he was impressed at the safety measures put in place. 

“Honestly, I was surprised [at] how well they were keeping people safe,” Chrisotomo said. “It was kind of irritating since we had to wait outside for hours because of the limited people allowed to go in, but overall they did good.” 

During the pandemic, he has been driving around 10 hours per week, especially because his parents and grandparents try to avoid going out to run errands. 

“[Getting my license] is relieving because I could drive anywhere and also, I’m a senior so I have more freedom,” Chrisostomo said.