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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Limited licensing services leave new drivers in the lurch

Question: If I had made an appointment for August before the DMVs closed due to the pandemic, will I be able to keep that appointment?

Answer: No. All reservations made before the pandemic shuttered Honolulu County driver’s licensing centers and satellite city halls have been canceled, more than 44,000 appointments in all, according to the city. You’ll need to make a new appointment in the AlohaQ online reservation system, at alohaq.honolulu.gov.

AlohaQ is taking reservations again because driver’s licensing centers reopened May 26 by appointment only. However, as of Tuesday the system approved appointments only for renewal of driver’s licenses or state IDs that bear expiration dates in March, April, May, June or July of this year. Still, that’s an expansion since the initial reopening, when only licenses or state IDs bearing March or June expiration dates could be renewed.

We emphasize that appointments are available only at driver’s licensing centers — all of Oahu’s satellite city halls remain closed; no reopening date had been announced as of Tuesday.

Pandemic-era rules apply: Customers must wear a face mask or facial covering and stay 6 feet away from others. As we mentioned, no walk-ins are allowed; service is by appointment only.

The city has said that all appointments made before the pandemic were canceled so that it could focus on providing urgently needed serv­ice once the DMVs reopened, and because it had to build time in between appointments for cleaning regimens not in effect before the pandemic.

Q: I went online to make an appointment, but the satellite city hall in Kaneohe was not listed.

A: As we mentioned, only driver’s licensing centers are open for driver’s license or state ID renewal at this time. Your closest option would be the Koolau driver’s license center, but all its appointments were booked as of Tuesday. The AlohaQ system said to check back later for cancellations. The other driver’s license centers are in Kapalama, Kapolei, Wahiawa and Waianae, according to AlohaQ.

Q: What about road tests? My son needs to get his full driver’s license so he can get a job as a delivery driver. It’s one thing that is hiring right now.

A: All road tests “remain suspended until further notice,” according to the city. Written and verbal tests for driver’s licenses aren’t being offered yet, either.

The lack of testing is why driver’s licenses are only being renewed right now, not being issued for the first time. It’s a problem for many readers, several of whom mentioned that they or their children or grandchildren hoped to be hired as delivery drivers, for such companies as Uber Eats, but need to obtain a valid driver’s license first.

We’ve asked the city and the HGEA when road tests would resume, but have received no updates. The public workers union has expressed COVID-19 concerns for the examiners, who are members of the union and would be in an enclosed space (the car) with the applicant during the road test.

At this point we’d advise Oahu residents who are concerned about the lack of services for initial licensing (no written or road tests) to contact their Honolulu City Council representative and the mayor’s office to ask how this problem can be solved.

Q: My license expired in late February. I was laid up with a broken leg and couldn’t get in to renew before everything closed down. When will I be able to get in?

A: The city said that the appointment system will open up soon to those whose licenses expired prior to the pandemic closures, but didn’t specify an exact date. For more information, call 768-4177 or check honolulu.gov/csd.


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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