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Driver services patrons irked by longer lines
License renewals now require more documentation
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The waiting area of the Department of Driver Services office on Aviation Boulevard was overflowing all day Tuesday. Some people waited more than five hours to renew their driver’s license. - photo by Tom Reed

Required documents for renewing or getting a new driver’s license:

  • Original birth certificate or valid passport
  • Social Security card
  • Two proofs of residency
  • Documents supporting any legal name changes

Source: Georgia Department of Driver Services

Dozens of people filed into the Department of Driver Services in Gainesville on Tuesday hoping to receive, renew or replace their driver’s license.

They just didn’t think it would take five hours.

Effective July 1, Georgia requires those looking to get a new license or renew an expired one to show more documents proving identification and residency.

Many, including Brittany Pirkle, stepped into the driver services building without knowledge of the new rule.

“It’s outrageous,” she said. “I didn’t know I had to have all that. I’ve not heard of this until (The Times) just told me. I don’t have all my documents so I’m probably waiting for nothing.”

She had been waiting more than two hours and said there were at least 40 numbers in front of her.

Those seeking a license must now show an original birth certificate or passport, Social Security card, two proofs of residency and documents supporting any legal name change.

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.

“We’ve tried to get the word out, but you’re always going to have the group that doesn’t hear about it,” said Susan Sports, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

She said those who come in without proper documentation will not be “turned away,” but issued a 120-day temporary permit until they bring the correct documents in.

“We made the business decision to not turn anyone away,” she said. “If they didn’t have the documents, they would not be able to drive.”

But on Tuesday, Charley Carter sat at the DDS for five hours waiting to get a new license.

He said he looked on the DDS website before going and it said he needed one supporting document for identification, not two. “I waited five hours and now I have a temporary, unsecured license and they won’t mail me a hard copy,” said Carter. “Now I have to come back and wait another five hours.”

And, he said, the new law should have come with trained staff.

“Our Gov. Deal promised new staff for the new law, and the staff isn’t trained yet is their excuse,” said Carter.

“When the new law rolled out, the staff should have been in place. It’s bulls--t. Five hours to get a $5 document when I’m carrying a U.S. passport that can send me anywhere in the world — in the world — and I can’t get a freaking driver’s license in Hall County, Ga., and I’ve lived here for 47 years.”

Sports said Tuesdays are generally busier for DDS location because of closing on Mondays.

That, coupled with the examiners learning a new system and the holiday approaching, means lines in Metro Atlanta could get lengthy.

“Our examiners are learning a new process,” said Sports. “Whenever you learn a new process, their transaction time is slower.”

She said many transactions can still be done online, but those who are looking to renew need to come in with the documents before they can begin to renew online.

The new law, some DDS patrons said, has not helped an already slow process.

“These places just don’t value people’s time,” said Wayne Bonnett. “I would think, like most things, the way that we are expanding with our technologies that it would be more streamlined. It’s a mess all the way around, but it is what it is.”

Bonnett had been waiting with his son, Griffin, for more than three hours for a learner’s permit.

Sports encourages residents to visit the DDS website, www.dds.ga.gov, before going to a local location.

She also said if there is any way to wait until next week, that may be a better plan.

“If there is any way to plan ahead and come next week, then the wait time will be lower statewide,” said Sports.

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