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Lawmakers say license process can be streamlined

New ID rules cause frustration, long lines at driver services sites

POSTED: July 7, 2012 11:59 p.m.

A week after new requirements for receiving, renewing or replacing driver’s licenses went into effect, many Georgians are still confused and frustrated with the changes.

As of July 1, the state requires those seeking a new license or to renew one to show more documents proving identification and residency.

But state lawmakers say their hands are tied because federal law mandates the change.

They do say, however, that the implementation of the requirements could be more streamlined.

“I have had some calls on it and it is of some significant concern,” said Sen. Butch Miller, R-Flowery Branch. “The change in Georgia’s process and procedure is really to be in compliance with the federal regulation. Could it have been executed better? Certainly. Could it have been executed with more advanced notification? Certainly.”

The changes require patrons of Department of Driver Services offices to show an original birth certificate or passport, Social Security card, two proofs of residency and documents supporting any legal name changes.

It’s Georgia’s attempt to stay compliant with the Federal Real ID Act of 2005, which aimed to strengthen identification standards in a post-9/11 era.

“My understanding is it’s a federal requirement, so we can’t tweak federal legislation or rules and (regulations),” said Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville. “Obviously this comes for several reasons. I assume it’s making sure the people that are applying are legal and it’s a security issue as well.”

Miller said he’s received some phone calls from constituents who voiced displeasure over the new regulations.

“It is some justified frustration and we could have done a better job of communicating with the citizens regarding the changes and what it was going to mean,” Miller said.

Rogers said he’s spoken with Gov. Nathan Deal and DDS Commissioner Greg Dozier and recommended the department bring in temporary examiners to accommodate the backup.

According to Rogers, the DDS issued more than 11,000 licenses Tuesday.

“I think if they can get some temps or shift some folks where they’re the most needed that it would speed up the process,” Rogers said. “That’s been my suggestion.”

He said the Georgia Department of Revenue brings in a temporary staff to handle tax returns every year and the governor has the power to allocate money to fund it.

And, Miller said, the examiners in place are doing all they can to keep up with the demand.

“The people at the Department of Driver Services are doing a fine job based on the resources they have to work with,” Miller said. “It’s unfortunate that they have to deal with this burdensome and unreasonable federal regulation.”

Wait times in Gainesville have been reported at five hours or more. Officials hope those times will decrease with time.

“Hopefully it will start speeding back up like it used to,” Rogers said.

For more information on the new rules, visit www.dds.ga.gov.

 


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