Getting Your Pa. Driver's License Post-Lockdown? Here's How It'll Work

The state has extended renewal dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic as it plans to reopen license centers when counties move to "yellow"

PennDOT Records BLACHER PKG 4PM - 00-01-40-10_17998977

If your Pennsylvania vehicle registration expired after March 16, you might be wondering how to get it renewed. Or how to get a new or renewed license.

During the coronavirus pandemic, PennDOT extended all deadlines to June 30, officials said on a call with reporters Tuesday. That applies to anyone whose documents - whether it's a permit, registration or license - expired after that March date.

With 24 northern counties gearing up to reopen Friday as the shutdown's restrictions ease, PennDOT is looking to reopen facilities there next week, "as soon as possible, safely," said Kurt Myers, the department's deputy secretary for driver and vehicle services.

Several services require in-person visits - taking the permit test, the road test, and posing for a license photo, for example.

"We do literally 20-25,000 transactions a day in our driver licensing centers," Myers said. "..We are a customer-facing, customer-interaction business."

So when the license and photo centers can reopen, some things will change. Workers will wear masks. Customers will be asked to as well, and to follow floor markings encouraging social distancing. There may be queues outside to limit the number of people inside the building, Myers said.

They expect to work through a backlog of customers who haven't been able to visit the DMV for two months now. But hopefully the deadline extensions will allow that crowd to be spread out.

Another measure that will reduce crowds is the extension of the REAL ID deadline to next year. The state was granted permission from the Department of Homeland Security to move the deadline one year to Oct. 1, 2021. REAL ID is a set of standards for identification cards that would've seen Pennsylvanians unable to board a flight or visit federal facilities if the state's ID cards were not in compliance with the standard.

With the deadline extended, PennDOT is not focusing on REAL ID right now, at least until the summer, Myers said.

"We’re looking at the reopening of locations and for some period of time we will not be issuing REAL IDs to reduce the numbers of customers coming into the driver licensing centers," Myers added. Other services may not be available when locations first open.

More information is available on the state DMV website.

Stimulus Funds and Lost Toll Revenue

Yassmin Gramian, the state's acting transportation secretary, said Pennsylvania is looking at a likely $700 million to $800 million in federal funds from the CARES Act stimulus. A total of $50 billion is being disbursed to DOTs in each state. Pennsylvania's number next fiscal year could be above $1 billion, Gramian said.

The department is also dealing with lost revenues due to fewer cars on toll roads like the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The turnpike, which is run by an independent commission, submits payments to PennDOT which are then redistributed in part for public transportation budgets, including SEPTA's.

The turnpike commission owes PennDOT $450 million annually until 2022.

Gramian said the commission asked for an extension to submit its funds, but pledged to make the public transit agencies whole in the meantime.

"There’s not going to be any gap in transit funding and we’ll make sure of that," she said.

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