Photo by Elaine Rackley
Jessica McLeod and her husband, Mike McLeod (at left second row), sat among applicants for Georgia driver’s license or reinstatement of their license. The crowd gathered at the Georgia Department of Driver Services Locust Grove office. The wait time to obtain a license or renewal at the DDS office was around two hours.
LOCUST GROVE — The recent additional requirements for getting or renewing Georgia driver’s license has led to longer wait times at local Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) offices.
Lori Swords said she arrived at the Locust Grove DDS office at 7:40 a.m. She left the DDS office at 11:21 a.m., with a temporary driver’s license permit.
“I came to get my license reinstated,” said Swords. “I have to come back with my marriage [certificate] to prove my last name is Swords. My birth certificate had my maiden name on it, if I don’t get my license, it will expire in 120 days.”
The process was smoother for Jessica and Mike McLeod. They arrived at the Locust Grove DDS office at 9:31 a.m., Thursday. The couple received their new licenses around 11:30 a.m. The McLeods said they used the DDS website and answered a questionnaire on the site, to find out the exact documents they needed to bring.
“I have all of my paperwork right here, and I had to bring our marriage certificate,” said Jessica McLeod. She said she understands the need for the new requirements, because as a bank teller, she is familiar with the repercussions of identity theft.
“I see identity theft everyday,” she added. “Customers come into the bank to find out why there’s no money in their account.”
Her husband agreed the long lines were not an issue.
“Whatever it takes to keep us safe is fine with me,” said Mike McLeod. “When you look at the big picture, it makes sense.”
On Thursday, Andrea Jeffery, assistant manager of the Locust Grove DDS office, said the wait time was about two hours. Prior to the new requirements the wait time at the same office was around 30 minutes, she said. She said the state hired more workers, and she got four.
Justin Allen, 18, was among the crowd at the Locust Grove DDS. The teenager said he arrived around 10:20 a.m., and at 11:28 a.m., he had not completed the process to get his license.
“I don’t mind waiting,” said Allen. “I think it’s a good idea, that everyone has to come in to be registered by the state. That way they can be sure we are all citizens of Georgia.”
The new requirements are causing a stir among Georgia residents, according to state representative Andy Welch (R-Locust Grove). Welch said he has received numerous calls about the new mandated driver’s license requirements. He said he has responded by explaining the purpose of the federally mandated documentation requirement.
“While these enhanced identification requirements can be tedious and inconvenient, I hope folks look at it as doing their part to ensure better domestic security for all of us,” said Welch. “To avoid further headaches for our citizens, and to promote national security the state of Georgia is complying with the federal law in asking citizens to produce two forms of identification when seeking a driver’s license or renewal.”
The new Secure Automated Fast Friendly Easier Driver’s License (SAFFE DL) program was designed to benefit customers by providing additional security, insuring the integrity of their identification, and helping protection against identity theft, said Welch.
The new requirements are:
• A driver must visit a DDS Customer Service Center in person.
• A driver must bring documentation which proves their identity, and full legal name, Social Security number (SSN), and residential address.
Once Georgia drivers meet the requirements, they will not have to repeat the process for subsequent renewals, according to the program that went into effect July 1, according to Welch.
“Constituents have asked me how do they prove residency for their 16 year-old daughters and sons,” Welch said. “There are several ways, but probably the easiest and most common way is for the parent to show his or her driver’s license. DDS will accept a valid Georgia driver’s license or identification card issued to a parent or guardian residing in the same household as the teen as proof of the teen’s residential address.”
Drivers may prove their identity and full legal name, by providing either an original or certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate, a valid U.S. passport, or Certificate of Citizenship or other immigration form. To prove their full SSN, customers must bring either their Social Security card, W-2 form with their full SSN, paycheck showing their name and full SSN, or documentation from the Social Security Administration displaying their name and full SSN.
Drivers are permitted to prove their residential address by providing any two of the following; mortgage payment, deed or property tax, health insurance statement, Medicare or Medicaid statement, paycheck/paystub, letter from employer, W2 from current or previous year, school record for the current and previous school year, income tax return for current or previous year, most recent utility bill, current rental contract/receipts for rent payment, or a recent bank statement.
For customers who are unable to obtain the mandatory documentation before their driver’s licenses or IDs are due to expire, DDS will issue an interim driver’s license/ID for 120 days to allow time to gather the necessary information.
For more information on Georgia’s changes relating to the Department of Driver Services, please visit www.dds.ga.gov/SecureID. You can also contact the DDS Customer contact center at (678) 413-8400, or (866) 754-3687.