Assm. Patterson blames DMV for hundreds of truck drivers unable to take driving test

'We now have what amounts to a limited number of slots for a huge, growing cohort of people ready to go to work.'
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Amanda Helzer is a truck-driving student at Advanced Career Institute in Fresno.

She was part of a six-week training program, but it has now been seven weeks because she can't get in for a driving test at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

"I should be making money right now today, I actually have a job waiting for me," she says.

"I feel helpless, I feel like I can't contribute the way I want to for my family."

Everett Yockey, the director of operations at the school, says he has 354 other students in the same position.

The DMV gives the school 12 testing appointments every week, but Yockey says it's not enough to keep up with the demand.

"This issue came about way before the pandemic hit. The pandemic only made a bad DMV get even worse," he says.

That's why Assemblyman Jim Patterson joined the group Friday to call on the DMV to make more testing appointments available for qualified drivers.

"Appointment after appointment after appointment stacked up, until we now have what amounts to a limited number of slots for a huge, growing cohort of people ready to go to work," says Patterson.

Patterson says the DMV needs to make a change or allow third-party testing for drivers to get their licenses to reduce the backlog.

"If they don't want to do the third party testing, they can't just shrug their shoulders and say we're doing the best we can. Get additional people, open up the lines, get these students trained," he says.

In a statement the DMV said in part:
"The DMV staff available to offer commercial drive tests perform the maximum number of tests that can be performed within each workday.
It is the goal of the DMV to quickly meet the demand for commercial drive tests, usually within 10 days."

Despite that, Helzer says she's planning to do what school officials say many have had to do - drive to another state like Arizona or Utah and take the test there so she doesn't have to wait any longer.

Patterson says he plans to make a direct appeal to the director of the DMV himself.

Here is the DMV's full statement:

The DMV recognizes the importance of commercial drivers and the movement of goods. We have taken many steps to help commercial drivers during the pandemic including extending expired commercial driver's licenses and medical certificates until May 31, 2021.

In addition to extensions, the DMV continues to expand its online services for California's commercial drivers at DMV.ca.gov - including commercial driver's license renewals. Customers can also renew their motor carrier permit online - streamlining the process to shorten the time thousands of California businesses must wait to receive their new permits, which are required for numerous transportation and commercial activities in the state.

The DMV staff available to offer commercial drive tests perform the maximum number of tests that can be performed within each work day.

It is the goal of the DMV to quickly meet the demand for commercial drive tests, usually within 10 days. Depending on the office offering commercial drive tests, there are appointments available as early as next week. Other offices are currently offering appointments for the tests within two to three weeks.
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