Long lines and wait times at Texas driver’s license offices continue, with appointments made for months.
But there is an alternative that thousands of people desperately want to try.
For months, people waited outside some busy North Texas offices as early as 2 a.m. to grab the opportunity for a same-day wait appointment. Walk-in tours are taken on a first-come, first-served basis and are rescheduled when reserved appointment slots are canceled and become available each day.
Otherwise, if people make an appointment online, they might wait until early next year to be seen. This is not an option for those who have recently moved to Texas, need a current work permit, or drive with an expired permit.
“The first day I saw this long line, I thought it was someone lining up for concert tickets,” said David Brownley, who spoke with NBC 5 this week while waiting outside the Carrollton Driver License Mega Center.
No concert. Just waiting. Brownley said he had already done so recently, but this week he was waiting for his daughter to book him a spot.
“Because that’s what fathers do,” he said. “Come here at 4 am with a lounge chair and a cup of coffee and talk to people. Get your driver’s license. “
He is one of the dozen who hope for a chance to land a ticket to a date the same day.
“Excessive traffic flow, people are moving in and need new driver’s licenses. Most of the people you meet online are from out of state, ”he said. “Once you walk in everyone is very professional. They take you in and out. It’s a whole production line in there, so I think they’re doing their best. They are probably understaffed and too many people are arriving. “
A few spots behind Brownley, Krutika Thaker is a newcomer to Texas hoping to get an upgrade to her expired out-of-state license.
“It is definitely an experience of a lifetime in the COVID situation. Like I never imagined standing in line at 3 a.m.,” she said.
At Carrollton and Garland power centers, customers reported that up to 100 people were lining up at 6 a.m. so not everyone made the cut for the same day ticket. Depending on the day and the office, people have reported, at times, that only 25 clients got the lucky ticket for a date.
“This is the third time that I think I’ve been here,” said Yesh, who declined to give his last name. could not be accommodated that day. “
People usually bring chairs and pillows. Some even bring blankets to lie down and fall asleep on the concrete sidewalk outside the front doors.
Others, like Yesh’s family, had no choice but to bring their children and take turns waiting in the car with the children.
“If winter comes, imagine what the situation is,” he said. “This can be an easy fix, it’s not rocket science.”
Driver’s license offices closed for months last year and fully reopened in July 2020 after the initial COVID-19 closures. Combined with the current go-only approach during the pandemic for those whose licenses have expired or who need to pass a test, there has been a backlog of customers still in the process of unraveling last year’s closings.
“While appointments mean clients no longer queue for services, it does require clients to log in and make an appointment in advance,” the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a press release to NBC 5.
To alleviate the cluttered system, many offices have offered services from Saturday to December 2020 and have extended weekday hours through August this year to help more customers get the services they need, according to the Texas DPS. .
However, the department told NBC 5 in a statement that temporary permits, extensions and grace periods that were offered earlier this year are no longer available.
“We understand that some clients have to book appointments for weeks or even months due to limited availability. We understand the frustration of having to wait, and we encourage people to check availability at many locations. , as well as coming back often to see if the dates have opened at the location of their choice, “the DPS said in a statement.
If you want to skip the line they suggest you check their website often as availability changes daily. If someone cancels an appointment, you can hang it as soon as it appears online. A woman tried this method in April, but was warned it could take some time.
DPS has also added a new section on its website showing wait times for appointments and queues at their offices, which can help people plan which office to visit.
The ministry typically notifies drivers by mail that their license will expire 60 days prior to the expiration date. However, if your license has not yet expired and you qualify to avoid in-person assistance, you can renew online for up to two years before expiration. To check your eligibility to renew or replace your driver’s license online, click here.
Things to remember
There are also a number of items that customers should make sure to bring with them to the driver’s license office. For expired or new licenses, this includes a certified birth certificate, not a photocopy or hospital-issued copies.
To view a list of what to bring with you when applying for official Texas identification, click here.
Not all offices will have same-day appointments and some people may not have the flexibility or time to wait hours in the morning. Others have even tried going to smaller offices in other areas of the state to quickly attend to their business.
“Several people online were saying that if they had a child trying to get a learner’s permit they would go as far as Waco,” said Vernell Gorelick, who was able to get his permit renewed after it expired in September.
Gorelick’s hectic and unpredictable work schedule couldn’t count on a far-off trip, so she lined up at one of North Texas’ megacentres early on to get a walk-in ticket.
“I was number 111 or s but I got there at 5 am,” she said.
But here’s the catch – she said she still has to come back later in the day to the open date range.
“People who take the bus and stuff like that, it’s almost impossible,” she said.
According to the DPS, most offices also offer a limited number of walk-in clients a place on a “waiting” list. These clients will have to wait at the office and are assisted in the event of an appointment cancellation or no-show. The number of appointments available is limited to ensure that all clients on the list will be served by the end of the day.
“While these can be good options for customers with urgent needs, your first and best option should be to make an appointment,” the DPS statement said.
Another obstacle right now is that people are not showing up for booked dates. The DPS currently reports that 28% of appointments are no-shows, which has an impact on who waits in the first lines to enter.
The DPS said if you can’t make your appointment, cancel as soon as possible. This allows even more people to be taken care of and takes the strain off the system.
“It’s the craziest thing,” Gorelick said. “We’re in the great state of Texas and this is what we’re doing to get people to get the basics of a driver’s license.”