Letter: A simple solution

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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Several constituents have contacted me with fears that our Freeborn County License Center is closing. Here is clarification.

The Freeborn County License Center, located in the county government center on Broadway in Albert Lea is not closing, but at this time is open only by appointment for driver’s license (renewals), IDs and permits, motor vehicle services (license tabs), Department of Natural Resource transactions and disability permits. The License Center doesn’t do and never did Minnesota state-written knowledge exams and behind-the wheel road tests to get a driver’s license.

According to an article in the Albert Lea Tribune on Feb. 19, there is speculation that some state knowledge and behind-the-wheel road test stations, which closed during the pandemic, might not reopen. The state station located in Albert Lea has not yet reopened. Currently there are 15 state test stations open, but the state may choose to permanently close many, Albert Lea among them. That would leave our area underserved, resulting in long drives to road test stations and difficulty getting testing appointments.

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Through local Community Education, several instructors in our area (for example, Glenville and Albert Lea) already are certified to teach driver’s education to area drivers, preparing them for the knowledge examination and providing behind-the-wheel experience for the final road test. You probably have seen certified instructors and pupils in student driver-designated vehicles on area roads.

Here is a simple solution for our underserved area for driver’s license behind-the wheel testing, saving money for the state and benefiting those who want to get a driver’s license. Since certified driver’s education instructors already know and teach what is needed to pass the knowledge exams, and also give behind-the-wheel instruction and practice, the state of Minnesota should allow those instructors to proctor the written exams and administer the final road test for a driver’s license.

It is ironic that state examiners, whose job it is to allow people to drive, apparently don’t want to drive to our testing station. If our state examiner is eliminated, wouldn’t it be a good idea for us to use our many local certified driver’s ed instructors?

Dan Belshan

Freeborn County commissioner

District 2