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With long waits driving customers crazy, lawmaker proposes plan to reduce frustration of getting new licenses, IDs

Long waits, multiple return visits, and inconsistent information are some of the complaints about the current method of getting a new driver’s license. The process can be frustrating not only for customers, but also for people on the other side of the counter.

Ensuring deputy registrars and driver’s license agents are staffed and supported properly could lower the temperature on those transactions, according to an independent expert review released in January.

Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL-Bloomington) sponsors HF4164, which is based on recommendations from the review, including how fees are paid and where the money goes.

As amended, the bill was laid over by the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee Tuesday.

An issue for deputy registrars is much of the more complicated, time-consuming transactions fall on their shoulders, because they are working face-to-face or on the phone with customers. But the portion of fees returned to them doesn’t necessarily recognize the extra workload.

For example, the City of Bloomington was losing $350,000 a year operating a station and dropped out of the market, Elkins said.

The proposed legislation would send a portion of the fees paid to the Department of Vehicle Services for mail and online transactions to the deputy registrars, helping subsidize their work, Elkins said.

Fees could go up for drivers, as, for example, the bill calls for filing fees to increase from $8 to either $11 or $16 for a noncompliant driver’s license or REAL ID-compliant license. Fees for the third and subsequent road and knowledge tests could also increase to encourage people to take time for more study between tests.

Additionally, the bill would, in part:

  • require at least 40 exam stations for driver’s license road tests;
  • create a pre-application process for REAL ID;
  • allow people 65 and older to get a lifetime identification card;
  • extend the valid period for most licenses and ID cards from four years to eight; and
  • remove exam requirements for adults moving from states with similar requirements.

The companion, SF3582, is sponsored by Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) and awaits action by the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.

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