Minnesota officials are expanding road test hours to weekends, in an effort to reduce excessive wait times for new drivers seeking their licenses.
Beginning Saturday and continuing through Dec. 22, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Driver and Vehicle Services division will be extending road test hours to weekends at three locations in the Twin Cities metro area — Arden Hills, Eagan and Plymouth. The Saturday and Sunday hours will provide test-takers with more than 3,000 additional opportunities to earn their driver’s license.
“We are committed to serving Minnesotans and meeting their expectations,” DPS Commissioner John Harrington said in a news release. “That means taking a closer look at the way DVS exam stations operate and making necessary changes to ensure road test appointments are available within a reasonable amount of time, at a convenient location for those who need them.”
In addition to normal Monday through Friday hours, exam stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays except on the upcoming Veterans Day and Thanksgiving holiday weekends. All weekend appointments for the month of November are already booked, and about 1,000 appointments remain for December, officials said Friday.
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In December, the department will evaluate the program and determine whether to extend the weekend hours into the new year.
“Unexpected delays in available testing slots can strain busy families,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a news release. “I’m glad that the Department of Public Safety is evaluating short- and long-term solutions to ensure that Minnesotans are well-served and we can get safe, prepared drivers out on the road.”
DVS officials have been looking for other ways to reduce wait times. Prior to adding weekend hours, they implemented a system that cancels appointments for individuals who took the road test and passed as a walk-in prior to a scheduled appointment. In some cases, those drivers had failed to cancel the later scheduled appointment, blocking others from taking that spot.
The new system, which started Aug. 20, immediately opened up nearly 300 additional appointments, the department said.
Beginning Jan. 1, the DVS will also discontinue standing appointments for road tests made by driving schools at metro-area exam stations. A study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget’s Management Analysis and Development team concluded the standing appointments fail to “positively affect exam station efficiency and capacity.”