The long wait to get a driver's license in Limestone County isn't getting any shorter, but state and local officials say a second examiner is coming. When that person will start, however, is anybody's guess.
Officials with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said a second examiner would be considered when Limestone County provided the space for one at the Clinton Street Courthouse Annex. County Commission Chairman Collin Daly said that challenge has been met.
“We've gone in and made an opening between (the driver's license office) and the license commissioner's office that used to be a meeting room,” he said.
Daly said the county promised the state the renovation project would be done by the end of the month, and that timeline has been met. He said the only thing that remains is running data line for a second ALEA work station. State Rep. Danny Crawford, R-Athens, who has been instrumental in efforts to hire a second examiner, said the state's information technology contractor would be responsible for making that happen.
Crawford said he didn't know when the second examiner would be hired, but he was willing to work with other members of the county's legislative delegation, including House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, to put pressure on the state to make it happen soon. The Legislature will begin its 2020 session in February, and Crawford doubts a second examiner would be hired before then.
“It might also take people filing some complaints (with ALEA) about the long wait times,” he said. “It might put more pressure on the director to do something.”
Crawford wants a second person added soon, as Limestone's growth isn't expected to slow any time soon.
“Our county is set to grow by 50 percent in 10 years,” he said. “There's not another county facing that.”
Officials have said a second examiner has been needed for a while, but especially now as Alabamians will soon be required to have a gold star on their driver's license if they plan to fly. The requirement goes into effect Oct. 1, 2020.
Those trying to obtain their gold star ID have been forced to make appointments elsewhere, including Decatur and Huntsville.
“It's sad that someone from Limestone County can make an appointment (at the Decatur office) and be home within the hour,” he said. “In Athens, you wait all day long, and someone might come out at the end of the day and tell you to go home and come back tomorrow.”
Madison County recently announced it would expand hours to include Saturday, and ALEA announced Wednesday it had modified hours at its Decatur office to better serve residents. Beginning Monday, Decatur's driver's license examining office will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The announcement was made by ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor and state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.
In April of this year, the agency launched a pilot program to open its Birmingham, Opelika and Mobile driver's license examining offices from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday. Then, on Nov. 2, ALEA added the Huntsville office to the Saturday lineup. The next phase will begin Saturday, Dec. 7, when Montgomery, Sheffield, Jacksonville, Tuscaloosa and Dothan offices will be added to the list.
On Saturdays, walk-in customers are assisted on a first-come, first-served basis for such services as first issuances and renewals of standard driver's licenses and non-driver IDs, as well as STAR IDs; knowledge and road skills tests; and out-of-state transfers.
For reinstatement, customers may call 334-242-4400 Mondays through Fridays. It is important to note driver's license examining offices in Birmingham, Opelika, Mobile and Huntsville will be open today, Nov. 30, despite it being Thanksgiving and Iron Bowl weekend.
“We promised earlier in the year to closely monitor Saturday operations. Offering a sixth day of business in the first four offices has been well-received, and I feel it will be as successful as we adjust the hours in Decatur and add another five locations to our Saturday operations,” Taylor said.