People who take driver's education courses have to wait months for a shot a formal state test to get a driver's license, according to driver's education instructors who have experienced the backlog first hand over the past few weeks.
"In 2013, 2014, it was a two-to-four week waiting period from the time you called to make an appointment from the time you actually went to actually get your license," said Brandon DuFour, owner of the All Start Driving School. "So we’re seeing a two-to-three time longer wait period today."
He believes it has to do with the now-active Driver Only License program started this year. It allows Connecticut residents living in the state illegally to obtain a legal driver's-only license that does not provide them any level of recognition or citizenship other than the ability to operate a motor vehicle.
"We think that it’s wrong that a 16-year-old kid has to wait 13 or 14 weeks to get a driver's license," DuFour said. "It’s something that means freedom and responsibility and now they’re held back and it’s out of their control."
Some of the controversy stems from a letter sent to driving instructors around the state telling them to stop blaming long waits on the new program for undocumented residents.
Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Andres Ayala released a statement clarifying, calling the previous communication "incorrect" and saying the state has taken "steps to reallocate resources and re-balance the drive-only appointment slots."
DuFour said the entire mess is a product of the poor planning and preparation that went into the drive-only program.
"I think they knew the interest and they just didn’t know how to handle it," DuFour said.
He added that he is ready to help the DMV get through the organizational and planning failures to help fix the problem. He said he hasn't been taken up on his offer.
"We made a lot of offers to have brainstorming sessions and to make this more efficient and run better and they rejected our help," DuFour said. "We’re trying together with them to solve this, but if they don’t work with us I don’t know what we can do."