DMV Evaluators Make It Impossible for Tesla Drivers to Pass a Driving Test

Going to the DMV to take your driving test for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking. Even if you aren’t a brand-new driver, it always seems to provoke at least some anxiety. Additionally, if your car has a manual transmission or is an EV, like a Tesla, it adds different layers of anxiety. Some driver-assistance features, such as a rear backup camera, are usually prohibited during a driving test. Furthermore, one driver found out that the advanced driver assist systems in a Tesla can cause you to fail the DMV driving test.

What are the basics of the driving test?

A Department of Motor Vehicles in Medford, New York
A Department of Motor Vehicles | John Paraskevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Different states, as well as different countries, have different requirements for getting a driver’s license. Generally, the test is composed of two parts: a written exam and an actual driving test. The written portion typically asks questions about the laws of the road and what different signs mean. Typically, a person must pass the written portion before being allowed to take the actual driving test. 

The driving test is usually composed of various maneuvers that drivers commonly come across while on the road. Most of the test is done on public, open roads and includes lane changes and entering and exiting intersections in various ways, such as stoplights, roundabouts, and stop signs. Additionally, drivers are typically required to navigate back and forth through traffic cones, perform emergency stops and evasive maneuvers, and execute reverse angled parking and parallel parking.

Are DMV evaluators biased against Tesla drivers?

According to an article posted on Teslarati, a website dedicated to Tesla and everything associated with Elon Musk, DMV evaluators are most definitely biased against Tesla drivers. In a rather unbelievable story, a professor at the University of California failed his driving test three times. The reason? Apparently, he failed because he was driving a Tesla. 

As the story goes, the first time the professor, a 38-year-old engineer, and scientist failed the test was because the “technology in the car was not off,” meaning the acceleration should have been on “Chill Mode” and the steering should have been on “Comfort.” The professor decided to take his second test through a different DMV and ensured the appropriate settings were in place. Unfortunately, he failed again because of the Model 3’s “automatic engine.” This time the examiner alluded to the regenerative braking being the problem.

The DMV manager informed the professor that he could retake the exam in a rental car but did not mention it had to be a rental car directly from the DMV. When the professor returned with a rental car, he could not take his exam as the car was not registered under his name. The DMV did offer a rental through their office, which the story implies he refused but is not explicitly stated. This resulted in a third failure for the professor.

Is it actually impossible to pass your DMV test in a Tesla?

Anecdotal accounts on Quora and Reddit show tales DMVs failing other Tesla drivers. However, there were several accounts of people successfully passing their driving test in a Tesla on the first try. You definitely will fail if you attempt to use the Autopilot feature, which Teslarati wrote about in 2020, confirming that most DMVs do not permit automated driving assist features to be used during a driving test.  

Whether DMV evaluators are truly biased against Tesla drivers is still up for debate. There is a lot about this particular professor’s experience that is just unbelievable. Furthermore, we can’t really know whether this story falls into the category of unbelievable but true or just exaggerated. If you are going to take your driving test in a Tesla, or any EV, check with your state’s laws regarding what is and is not allowed. Additionally, it is never a bad idea to talk to your specific examiner because even in cars without driver-assist features, different examiners might have different grading methods.

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