Question: My granddaughter drove my car from Hawaii Kai to Wahiawa to take her driver’s license test and was flatly rejected because the back window on the driver’s side doesn’t open. Otherwise, the car is in perfect condition with a valid safety check. Could this be some crazy COVID-19 requirement that you need four windows down or a misinterpretation of the rules? Is there a way to get these in writing in case we get another overzealous employee? She was given four days to fix the window and come back.
Answer: Your granddaughter’s examiner was not overzealous, but simply inspecting the vehicle as required before hitting the road — if the vehicle doesn’t pass inspection, the road test does not occur, said Harold Nedd, a spokesman for Honolulu’s Department of Customer Service.
You mentioned that your car had a valid safety check, meaning a current Hawaii vehicle inspection certificate and decal. Those are required as part of the pre-road test vehicle inspection, but they alone do not suffice. The inspection before the road test covers safety factors involving the vehicle’s operation — including that door handles, windows and doors locks are in good working order — as well as general conditions that could affect the health, safety or comfort of the examiner, Nedd said.
“There have been people who show up with a car filled with debris or with the seat covered with cat hair or dog hair. The examiner doesn’t have to endure those conditions,” Nedd said.
Although cleanliness wasn’t an issue with your car, the window that wouldn’t open would have been a disqualifying factor, he said. Car windows were checked even before the pandemic, but now they must be down during the driving portion, to allow cross-ventilation and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19, he said.
Other pandemic-era requirements also apply, including that the applicant has their temperature checked and fills out (and passes) a health-screening questionnaire before getting behind the wheel, and that they wear a face mask covering their mouth and nose at all times during road test.
Read the full requirements on the department’s website, at 808ne.ws/roadtest.
Q: The tire light on my brother’s car just came on even though there’s nothing wrong with the tires; it passed the safety check, and the mechanic said it’s a glitch but he couldn’t turn it off. The car is old but in good working order. I figure this could be a problem at my road test. Can I use a rental car if I have to? I don’t want to give up the appointment it took me so long to get! Not all of us can afford new cars! I do need a driver’s license for work, but I don’t own a car.
A: You are correct that the warning light will be a problem. As explained in the previous question, the road test won’t proceed until the vehicle passes an assessment that confirms that “instrument panel gauges are working properly and warning indicator lights are not on,” according to Honolulu County’s Department of Customer Services’ brochure about road tests, which you can read at 808ne.ws/rdtstbr.
Yes, you may use a rental car, assuming that it meets the inspection requirements and that you have the vehicle’s certificate of registration, certificate of vehicle inspection and Hawaii motor vehicle insurance card. These documents must be originals, not copies. In addition, the driver’s license applicant (you) must be listed on the rental contract, according to the brochure.
Many thanks to the gracious gentleman who held the door for us at Kahala Mall on the Kilauea Street side. I guess we’ve gotten so used to automatic doors that we just stood there for a moment until he stepped up and opened it for us. How silly we were! He just smiled. — Giggling kupuna
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.