Wait times continue to increase at Tennessee’s driver services centers, even as state officials have added staff and made some transactions available online.
State officials are still struggling to meet demands, which they blame on new federal ID requirements. The backup at driver services centers has doubled since Tennessee began issuing REAL IDs in July.
Before that, wait times were under 40 minutes on average. They were under 50 minutes in December, and topped an hour in January.
Assistant Commissioner Paula Shaw, who oversees the centers, told state lawmakers that one issue is that everyone has to apply in person for REAL IDs.
“I am aware of the frustrations and concerns with regard to wait times at driver services centers,” says Shaw. “We share the same concerns and have a multi-step — both short-term and long-term plan — to address these concerns.”
Shaw says she wants to expand an existing partnership with county clerks, who can be trained to issue REAL IDs. Driver Services is partnered with more than 40 clerks in 32 counties. More than 30 of the clerk sites can issue a REAL ID.
“We’re bringing them on as fast as we can,” says Shaw. “We have several clerks that are also in process.”
Starting in October, a driver’s license will no longer be enough to enter federal facilities or fly on commercial flights.
The state says they’ve issued more than 400,000 REAL IDs so far.