TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Even before the pandemic, going to the Department of Public Safety meant waiting in long lines to renew or, in some cases, receive your driver’s license. Since a statewide stay-at-home order caused a backlog at DPS offices, drivers may now wait weeks rather than hours for the same service.
Texas DPS has instituted an appointment-only policy, allowing people to book limited in-person appointments six months in advance to help minimize foot traffic in and out of DPS buildings.
The process also means drivers are now waiting weeks, sometimes months, to renew or receive their driver’s license.
“If a teen is in our September class and they complete the written test and all of the requirements to get the permit, they may not be able to get an appointment with the driver’s license office until, say, January or February of next year to be able to get the permit,” said Roy Dudley, owner of the Mr. D’s Driver’s Ed locations in Tyler and Kilgore.
The state requires new drivers to hold on to permits for six months before being qualified to receive their official license. If you are at least 16-years-old, the whole process could take about 7 months from beginning to end. In the middle of a pandemic, that’s not an option.
“It may take up to a year or longer just to get a driver’s license," Dudley added.
Mr. D said many of his students are missing out on opportunities and failing in their responsibilities at home because they can’t get a license in time.
“We had a call yesterday from a gentleman who had a job lined up but he couldn’t start work until he had his driver’s license renewed," he explained.
Dudley believes driver’s education offices can play a big role in finding a solution.
“I think if we were trained to do some of the paperwork, that would alleviate some of their workload," he said. "And that’s a very doable process. Just to train professionals who are already in the field just to do this extra step.”
If you have a child who needs a license and they’re as young as 14-years-old, Dudley said that’s the earliest age someone can begin driver’s ed.
It’s important to note that an extension for expiration dates was granted in response to COVID-19 remains in effect. The extension means that if your Texas ID, DL, commercial driver license, or election identification certificate card expires on or after March 13, 2020, it falls under the period covered by the State of Disaster Declaration related to COVID-19. Your card will remain valid for 60 days after which time DPS issues a public notice that the extension period for the disaster declaration has been lifted.