Driver's license waiting times still too long, state says
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
Tennessee drivers in need of a new license or a renewal routinely wait more than an hour in line, and new numbers suggest one thing alone keeps making it tougher for the state to improve.
The Department of Safety aims for a pretty lofty goal of 20 minutes for people to wait at its Driver Services Centers, and the latest report shows an average wait at the center on Centennial Boulevard at 28 minutes and in Clarksville, it's 42 minutes.
But, in Dickson, the wait time is up to 47 minutes and Franklin drivers have waited an average of 71 minutes.
It's not good enough for drivers, and officials say it's not good enough for the state.
"I expected to wait, because honestly I just know how these things are," said driver Heather Munoz.
An "express" option still took her 50 minutes to complete, partly, she said, because it wasn't clear how to finish the process.
"I think they need to have a photo booth like right next to the renewal," she said.
At the Hart Lane center Wednesday, a steady stream of customers stepped in line and waited. And in spite of the governor's push to lower wait times, the state admits it still has work to do.
"We want a professional image. We want to deliver service. And we want to do it in a timely matter, and I think that's what we get paid to do," said Department of Safety Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin.
Part of the problem lies with an exploding number of handgun permit applications. That alone roughly doubled the amount of work in many centers, even as staff sizes didn't keep pace.
It's a problem but also an opportunity.
"At the end of the day, we care that they waited. And we want to move those lines, so there's a lot of things we're looking at. And I think we're getting better. But I don't think we're there yet," Godwin said.
The state has a few possible changes in the works to speed up wait times. New software could speed up the system for all drivers. Handgun permits could move online, and they could even consider a mobile app to let you check wait times and book an appointment.
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