With Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) offices closed at least through Friday because of the coronavirus pandemic, Drive readers are concerned they can’t renew their licenses and won’t be able to legally drive.
“My driver’s license expires in mid-April. I want to renew my regular license. How and where can I do that during this COVID-19 shut down?” Drive reader Pam asked in an e-mail.
Not to worry, says Megan Leonard, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Gov. Tim Walz on March 28 signed a bill that grants an extension for Minnesotans whose driver’s licenses or ID cards expire during the stay-at-home order.
The law says any expiring driver’s license, instruction permit, provisional license, operator permit, limited license, or farm-work license will remain valid for two months after the peacetime emergency ends. So, Pam, you’ll have at least until mid-June to renew.
How to do a vehicle title transfer
Another Drive reader selling a car wanted to know how to transfer the title to the new owner.
Leonard said title transfers can be done through the mail, by filling out the title application form. Applicants will need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), plate number, what they paid for the vehicle and their contact information. They also will need to calculate the requisite fees, which can be tricky, Leonard said. Wrong calculations can delay processing, so it’s best to call DVS at 651-297-2126 and have an agent help.
“We want them to have the correct fees and send a check for the right amount,” she said. “We don’t want them to have to redo the work.”
DVS staff will process applications when offices reopen and will send a confirmation when the transaction has been completed. Before providing the buyer with the title, the seller should complete and detach the seller’s notice of sale found at the bottom of the title, Leonard said.
Can I drive if I lost my permit?
Drive reader Amy wondered if it’s legal for a novice driver who lost her permit to be on the roads.
“My daughter just lost her driver’s learning permit and obviously cannot go to the DMV to get a new one issued,” she said in an e-mail. “With everyone at home and accidents down 50% now seems like a great time to get out of the house and get some practice in. If she gets pulled over … would we get in trouble for not having the physical permit on her?”
State law says drivers must have their license or permit with them, said Lt. Gordon Shank of the Minnesota State Patrol. While police can check if a driver has a valid license or permit, “it would be up to the officer’s discretion to determine if a citation is warranted,” said Capt. Matt Smith of the Burnsville Police Department.
Unfortunately, Minnesotans can’t apply for a replacement permit while DVS offices are closed, Leonard said.
Teens 18 and under must practice driving with a licensed adult driver for at least six months before taking a road test. For people 19 and older, the requirement is three months. With lighter traffic levels than normal, this is a good time for drivers with permits in hand to practice, said Mike Torkelson, a driving instructor with AAA Minneapolis.
“Of course, learning to drive when there are more cars around is also important, especially as the experience level rises, but right now as at almost any time, any practice is better than no practice.”
Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.