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ASK THE EXPERTS

Wait times for Georgia driver’s licenses improving

POSTED: September 5, 2012 4:00 a.m.

On July 3, 2012, the Georgia Department of Driver's Services (DDS) enacted a secure ID program to enhance the integrity and security of your Georgia driver's license or identification card.

In order to ensure that your renewal or application process runs smoothly, I would like to discuss how these changes will affect you - the constituents of the 51st Senate District.

Some of you may have seen news stories about how these changes have caused long waits at Georgia Department of Driver Services offices.

My office has received many phone calls and e-mails from the citizens of the 51st district voicing their concerns as well.

I want to assure you that the Department of Driver Services has been working hard to make renewing or obtaining a Georgia ID as quick and easy as possible.

After the first month of operation, the Department of Driver Services released a graph that shows the tremendous improvement in customer wait times throughout the state:

Statewide average wait/customers served

• Week 1: 1:31:58 - 47,925

• Week 2: 1:18:38 - 65,309

• Week 3: 1:03:50 - 66,523

• Week 4: 0:50:43 - 67,076

It is important to remember that any new process requires some initial time to implement; however, you can ensure a dramatic improvement in wait time if you come prepared with the necessary documents.

Those wishing to secure/renew a Georgia driver's license or ID card will now need to bring the following documents:

• At least one (1) original or certified document to prove primary identity.

• At least one (1) document to prove social security number.

• At least two (2) documents to prove residential address.

• Appropriate name change documents, if needed.

• Non-citizens will also need to bring a document to prove legal presence in Georgia.

The implementation of the Georgia Department of Driver Services' secure ID program was necessary in order for Georgia to be in compliance with the Federal Real ID Act of 2005.

The act established new federal standards for state driver's licenses and identification cards.

In addition, it also set forth new requirements on what the federal government will and will not accept as identification for "official purposes" including:

• Boarding official aircrafts.

• Entering federal buildings and nuclear plants.

However, many of these requirements are not new. They simply replace language from the previous act - the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

There are a few important things to remember with these new guidelines - the first being that this is a phased process.

Your current ID or license is valid until its expiration date - you do not need to go out and immediately renew your license or ID.

However, the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005 states that anyone born before Dec. 1, 1964, will have until Dec. 1, 2017, to obtain the new ID cards or licenses.

Therefore, you will need to renew at expiration or before Dec. 1, 2017 to be compliant with federal standards - whichever comes first.

Your current license will be accepted as a valid form of federal identification for the aforementioned "official purposes," as long as that ID or license has not expired.

With identity theft becoming a growing concern for Georgians, the secure ID program serves to protect Georgia drivers against license fraud and identity theft.

With that in mind, the new documents are designed to be more difficult to counterfeit, alter or replicate.

In addition, the new cards have several added security features, including ghost photos, a laser-engraved signature over the primary photo to minimize alterations and a tamper-resistant coating placed over the card.

If you have any additional questions about documentation or the process, don't hesitate to call the Georgia DDS office closest to you - they are there to assist you during this transition.

For more information on the types of documents you can bring and to create a custom checklist, visit the Department of Driver Services Web site at http://www.dds.ga.gov/SecureID/index.aspx.

Sen. Steve Gooch represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties. He may be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via e-mail at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

 

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