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Learner permit test, vehicle registration may be completed online, state DMV says

A just-announced pilot program for online learner's permit

A just-announced pilot program for online learner's permit tests and vehicle registrations will reduce the need for New Yorkers to visit DMV offices like this one in Massapequa. Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Islanders can now take learner permit tests from the comfort of their own homes and for the first time register their vehicles online, the State Department of Motor Vehicles announced Friday.

The pilot program would reduce the need for customers to enter DMV offices as the state continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

"These online options will make it more convenient for New Yorkers to access the services they need, while reducing congestion in the DMV offices and helping continue our shared progress in stopping the spread of this virus," said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

New Yorkers who have a reservation for an in-office learner's permit test — a precursor to obtaining a driver's license — will first be allowed to take the exam online. All permit applicants may take the test online later this fall.

A parent or guardian must supervise the 50-question test, which takes less than an hour to complete, for applicants 16 or 17 years old, officials said. The adult must then accompany the teen applicant to a DMV office to complete the application process and certify they oversaw the test. The in-person appointment requires a reservation and takes, on average, five minutes.

DMV spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian said test questions are changed frequently to prevent cheating.

"They are generated from a large bank of questions and the order in which the questions appear is shuffled," Koumjian said, adding that applicants must still take a five-hour course and pass a road test to be licensed.

Drivers under 18 must wait at least six months from the date they received their learner's permit to schedule a road test. Motorists must wear face coverings and maintain 6 feet ​of distance from passengers and staff during the road test, according to state guidance.

Meanwhile, residents of Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Richmond, Westchester, Rockland, Albany and Onondaga counties — which have state-run DMV offices — can now register their vehicles on the DMV website. The department said it was working with county clerks who operate DMV offices in the remaining 51 counties to expand their online registration services.

DMV officials said the pilot programs would free up office space, allowing staff to accommodate more customers who could not complete their transactions online.

"Offering these transactions online is more convenient and safer for those who need to get a permit or register a vehicle, and it allows us to free up more space in our offices to serve those who cannot do their transaction remotely," said DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder.

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