Drivers license office a real mess

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Shelby County Commission discussed problems at both driver&8217;s license offices in Shelby County on Monday.

One woman arrived at the license office at 7 a.m. She and her child stood in line all day and at 4 p.m., they were told no more patrons would be helped that day. They must come back the next day and begin the process all over again.

That is just one of many similar experiences had by residents, according to commissioners.

&8220;It&8217;s unbelievable,&8221; Commissioner Joel Bearden said. &8220;I&8217;ve heard the same thing from many of my constituents.&8221;

County Manager Alex Dudchock said the county is doing everything it can do, from offering to aid the state-operated license office with more space to buying equipment.

The most recent problem in the obviously trouble-ridden system run by the state Department of Public Safety is the license offices&8217; new computer program.

&8220;When the system goes down (in Montgomery), they shut down – whether you have waited two hours, four hours or six hours. If they&8217;re shut down, they can&8217;t do anything,&8221; Dudchock said.

&8220;And then if it&8217;s not the (computer) system being down, it&8217;s staffing and manpower.&8221;

Commissioners asked, &8220;So, where does the buck stop?&8221;

The answer, according to county finance manager Butch Burbage, is DPS director Mike Coppage.

Burbage said there are others in the chain below Coppage as well.

&8220;We&8217;ve talked to everyone about it,&8221; he said.

Burbage said one problem they&8217;re having is that under the new system, all those seeking Alabama licenses for the first time must be handled directly by the testing people and there are just not enough of them.

In addition, he said, it now takes 30 to 45 minutes to handle one applicant.

&8220;This is not just a problem with us,&8221; Burbage said. &8220;This is a problem all over the state. They&8217;re adding new systems statewide daily.&8221;

He said the computer system in that office has been down at least part of every day since Jan. 1.

&8220;It&8217;s a real mess,&8221; Burbage said