by: Richard Elliot Updated:
CONYERS, Ga. - People waiting for driver's license renewals across Georgia saw their average wait times increase from 35 minutes to 99 minutes after the implementation of new, tougher federal ID guidelines. In Metro Atlanta, many drivers complained of waits as long as four and five hours to get their licenses renewed.
Department of Driver Services board members met at the headquarters building in Conyers Wednesday morning to get a briefing on the issues plaguing the system since the new regulations went into effect last week. Those new regulations require drivers to bring in a valid passport or birth certificate, proof of a valid
Social Security number, and two proofs of address such as a power or water bill.
"We've just got to get our hands around this wait time," said DDS Commissioner Greg Dozier. "Obviously, everyone here wants to do everything we can to rectify the current wait times."
State officials point out these regulations are mandated by new federal Department of Homeland Security guidelines to comply with the RealID law of 2005. Without the new, stricter regulations, DDS officials said starting in January, Georgia residents would not be allowed to board a plane or enter a federal building using their state driver's licenses as ID.
Officials said they are still trying to identify where the problems are and correct them in order to reduce those wait times.
"We're doing a lot more than just sitting here watching," DDS's George Theobald briefed board members. "We're meeting daily to figure out where the choke points are, trying to find out if there are areas of improvement in either our process or the message we're telling our customers."
Theobald said the volume of people renewing their licenses didn't fluctuate by much from week to week, but the wait times have increased. He said prior to the new guidelines, about
46 percent of customers statewide got their renewals in 30 minutes or less. That number fell to 22 percent last week.
Of the 35,000 customers getting renewals last week, Theobald said about 9100 didn't bring the correct documents and received a 120-day temporary permit.