Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Safety Dept. Commissioner Denounces Long TN Driver’s License Lines

Shelby County is home to the worst performing driver’s license station in the state, according to the agency in charge of license renewals.

But state officials want to change that, by rolling out self-serve iPad stations, outfitting stations with more equipment, and improving the training for workers at the 51 driver’s service centers across the state. They’re also trying to make it easier for residents to never enter those centers, by completing simple transactions over the Internet and visiting in-person only for more complex issues.

Meanwhile, drivers coming to the station on East Shelby Drive in Shelby County can count on being in line 86 minutes on average, the longest wait time in the state, according to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

“Obviously, that is unacceptable,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said during a state budget hearing Nov. 6. (View the agency’s budget summary here.)

The state’s goal is to have all its centers performing with wait times of 20 minutes or less and visit times – including the time it takes to actually complete the transaction – of 35 minutes or less. Gibbons said 20 of its centers had met the wait time goal and 25 had met the visit time standard.

The state is in the process of upgrading its 30-year-old driver’s license computer system, though it won’t be in place for at least three years, Gibbons said. And it’s also taking steps like bringing in managers from outside the agency and rolling out more equipment to each station.

“Every driver service center has one copier and one camera,” Gibbons said. “If either malfunctions that center essentially shuts down.”

The department is also experimenting with adding part-time employees to ease wait times during peak times of day.

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