Some local MVA locations do not pass the test

By Camille Bachrach

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You parallel park perfectly, you back up in a perfectly straight line, and your three-point turn is so well executed your driving teacher is speechless. You’re driving back to park the car, but you jump the curb, forget to look both ways when you cross the street and fail to put the parking break on.

Suddenly your dream about tomorrow’s driving exam is suddenly a nightmare. You wish you could have a couple more days of practice. Good thing you heard the Beltsville Motor Vehicle Association (MVA) passes out licenses like brochures.

Most students and driving school instructors accuse Gaithersburg MVA of not only being stingy with licenses but equipped with a rude staff service to boot. On the other hand students say facilities in Annapolis, Beltsville and White Oak have nicer employees and are more lenient with the license test.

Junior Julian Debenedetti failed his first test in Gaithersburg and later passed in Beltsville. He speaks highly of the Beltsville MVA, describing them as very professional and serious; but definitely not rude.

According to Thomas Liberatore, MVA Director of Driver Programs, 59 percent out of the 17,538 first-time test takers in 2008 passed at Gaithersburg and 41 percent failed.

In Beltsville for the 2008 calendar, out of 11,057, 48 percent of first time test takers passed and 52 percent failed.

Bias aside, statistics suggest that Gaithersburg is not harder to take your exam than any other place.

“The person I got couldn’t speak English very well so I would always have to ask them three of four times what they were saying,” Debenedetti said. “I didn’t want to be rude and insult them.”

Junior Haley Trost, who also did not pass her driving test the first time at Gaithersburg, opted to take it at White Oak the second time around.

“At Gaithersburg they were rushed,” Trost said. “[They] didn’t [seem to]care. I did not feel as comfortable as I did in White Oak.”

In White Oak, the passing rate is similar to the one in Beltsville. Out of 5,283 first time test takers, 52 percent passed and 48 percent failed.

Despite what students believe, MVA spokesperson Caryn Coyle insists that location does not affect the outcome of the test.

“There are no differences between the MVA offices in the leniency or difficulty of the driving tests,” Coyle said.

For some students this may be hard to believe, since they have witnessed the staff at multiple MVA offices and have experienced varied results.

According to senior Rebecca Murphy, she knew a lot of people that did not pass at the Gaithersburg MVA and she did not want to take her test more than once, so she decided to go to Annapolis.

“People were a lot nicer [at Annapolis],” Murphy said. “[Compared to when] I got my permit at the Gaithersburg one.”

These observations are not just raised among students, driving instructors are fully aware of the differences among locations.

“Oh yes, [I’ve] heard that people who provide the tests and administrative people are sometimes rude [in Gaithersburg],” an instructor of Potomac Driving School said.

According to MVA Administrator John Kuo, while it may seem that some driver license examiners are harder or easier than others, all adhere to strict policies and established operating procedures to ensure consistency.

“It really depends on whether the driver license candidate is doing everything correctly,” Kuo said.

When taking their driving exam, students like to point fingers at examiners if they fail, which is easier than admitting they messed something up. Regardless of location, all examiners are required to adhere to the same rules and regulations.

Talk is cheap; and that is all the hype about easier examiners at different driving location is just that, talk.