Long Lines For Driver's Licenses May Be Nearing An End

Thursday, August 18th 2011, 10:28 pm
By: News 9

Michael Konopasek, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The headaches of long lines and long wait times at driver's license testing locations may eventually be a thing of the past. New technology initiatives that promise to shorten wait times are in the planning stages at the Department of Public Safety.

DPS is not denying it could be doing a more efficient job when it comes to its driver's license testing locations, and many Oklahomans agree. The number one complaint News 9 found were the long wait times. Waiting four or five hours for a new license wasn't unheard of this summer.

Empty chairs at the Yukon DPS location is not the usual sight, unless it's just after closing time. Then, you're likely to find people leaving in not the best of moods.

"I think they need a new system," Oklahoma taxpayer Cori Seewald said.

Others agree.

"[It's] just disappointing," explained John Bowen, another Sooner taxpayer.

The long wait times are prompting DPS to brainstorm for solutions.

"We're well aware that there's long lines," DPS spokesperson Capt. Chris West said. "The Department of Public Safety wants to use the technologies that are available to assist us in eliminating excessive processing time and waiting time."

Some of the new proposals in the works include:

*Being able to fill out a pre-registration application for a driver's license or state identification card online from home computers.

*Online driving test scheduling.

*Including bar code scanners for out-of-state licenses that would eliminate employees having to manually enter data.

All of this is expected to streamline the process, and it can't come soon enough for some.

"When I finally got [to the DPS testing location], there was a line of people waiting, and by the time I got to my turn, it was too late to get help, Bowen said. "I can't take off of work to come here. I mean, I've got a small window just to get here."

DPS blames the current situation on the state's budget.

"That has resulted in employees leaving," West said.

And, fewer employees mean slower service.

The technological advancements should help, but DPS says it is not allowed to add more employees to its cash-strapped payroll.

"We're trying to improve our services to the citizens," West said. "We remember and we're well aware that we work for them."

DPS says summer is the busiest time of the year because kids are out of school, and it's a popular time for new drivers to get licenses. With more and more schools back in session in August, the lines are expected to subside.