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Tennessee now lets teens take written portion of driver's license tests online

Posted at 9:57 AM, May 18, 2022

NASHVILLE — For generations of drivers, waiting at the DMV to take the driving test's written portion was like a rite of passage, where the passage of time went by very slowly.

Now, Tennessee is one of the first states in the nation to let teenage drivers take the written portion of their driver's test from the comfort of home. It's part of an initiative to reduce the wait time at the Tennessee Driver Services Center.

"A lot of our centers are overwhelmed with individuals taking a test for the first time. So now, instead of having a parent taking off work, coming to the center, they can do it 24/7 from the privacy of their home," said Michael Hogan, Director of Driver Services for the state of Tennessee.

Only teenagers between the ages of 15-17 qualify, and they must have their parent or guardian serve as their official test proctor, using an app called Tennessee Proctor ID.

"They will go in, their proctor will receive an ID, they will use that ID to validate who they are, and then they will begin the test," said Hogan.

Taking the test from home might sound like it could be really easy to cheat. However, the state thought of that, so there are a few safeguards in place.

"If individuals try to toggle between the screens, it’s an automatic failure," said Hogan.

There's also a bank of questions, so multiple failures of the test won't just give you all the answers.

"That person would probably have to take the test over 8 or 9 times before they would touch each question," he said.

Parents and guardians also have skin in the game, because they'll have to sign an important state document.

"They are signing that form that says, 'I’m financially responsible for this minor.' And so, that partnership, we’re hoping that they will take that seriously, and make sure the minor studies but also takes it without compromising the test," said Hogan.

The online test won't keep you totally out of the DMV. The proctor and teenager will still have to come in, in person, and turn in paperwork to actually get the ID. But the hope is that this new method of doing things will help the wait pass a little faster.

"It takes about 7 minutes to issue a driver’s license, once all of those other processes are done, so we’re reducing the processing time, customer’s visit time, and then the overall wait time at the Driver’s Services Center," said Hogan.

If teenagers fail the test twice, they'll have to take the rest of their tries in person at the DMV. The state also reserves the right to retest any driver that took the test online, at any time they wish.

This story was first reported by Chris Davis at WTVFin Nashville.