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Column: Driver Services working to improve customer service
by Dick Yarbrough
Columnist
October 10, 2013 03:58 PM | 5255 views | 1 1 comments | 95 95 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
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After a friend told me she had waited three and a half hours recently to get her Georgia driver’s license renewed and then had to deal with a clerk that could have passed for a robot – and an unhelpful one, at that – I thought this to be a typical example of a bunch of government bureaucrats who don’t care because they don’t have to. Where else are we going to go to get our driver’s licenses renewed? Burger King?

I sat down with Department of Driver Services Commissioner Rob Mikell and related that bad experience with one of his constituents. If the impression is that this incident is business-as-usual is his department, that is incorrect, said Mikell. He said, for the most part, his employees do a great job and provide good customer service. (My friend’s license renewal was reviewed and corrected, so that story has a happy ending.)

The Department of Driver Services probably touches more Georgians than any department in state government, with the exception of the Department of Revenue. The numbers are staggering. Georgia has more than seven million licensed drivers and DDS deals with roughly half of those people – about 3.5 million last year – face-to-face. This doesn’t include 1.5 million calls answered, 7,200 safety lessons for motorcycle drivers and 1.3 million citations processed; all of this in 65 locations across the state, manned by 420 full-time employees and 400 examiners. No matter the numbers, we taxpayers expect to be treated quickly, efficiently and courteously. No one understands that better than the commissioner.  

“We are looking at everything we do to see if we can make the experience for our customers simpler and more efficient,” Mikell said, “including putting common sense into the process.”   

In other words, he is trying to get employees to figure out a way to help the customer and not seize on a bureaucratic loophole, as happened to my friend. A three-and-a-half hour license renewal puts the department in a bad light and doesn’t exactly win friends with the tax-paying public.

One of the gulps of the fire hose Mikell is trying to swallow is the Secure ID, which came as a result of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Georgia is one of the first states to become compliant with that federally mandated law.

To get your driver’s license renewed today, there are several documents you must have to prove you are who you say you are and that you live where you say you do. It isn’t rocket science. It just takes a little preparation on your part.

You need proof of identity. Your birth certificate or a passport will do. You need a document with your Social Security number. That can be your Social Security card, a W-2 or Tax Form 1099. Then, bring two forms of proof of your residential address (a recent bank statement and your monthly utility bill, for example, but not a piece of junk mail, a magazine label or an envelope.)

There are some exceptions. If the last name appearing on the primary identification documents is different from your current name, you must show additional information that verifies your name change, such as a marriage certificate, certified marriage application and/or a divorce decree. If you have an up-to-date passport that shows your married name as the legal name, that will suffice.

The commissioner suggests – and I agree – that you go to the department’s website, www.dds.ga.gov, to get more information on how to simplify the process and to deal with any additional exceptions that might apply to you, such as having moved here from another state.  

Using the department's online services, you may be able to handle your own transactions at your convenience, including completing your license application, changing your address and other matters.  

I came away from my meeting with Mikell with a new respect for the department. These folks may not always get it right – in four million or more contacts with seven million people, there is always a chance there will be a mistake – but I think they are making a good-faith effort to do the right thing and to do it better.  

At the same time, remember this is a team game. Mikell’s job is to see his staff gives you its best efforts and shows some ingenuity in doing so. Your role is to show up with the correct documentation, as required by law. The more you help them, the better they can help you.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Ga. 31139.
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Busterew
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October 11, 2013
This story is not about 'Customer Service', but about the false notion that these new extra steps to get your license renewed will make us safer.

Once again Government over reaches and burdens the working poor with a hidden tax.

How did it go from me being able to renew my license by mail to now having to bring 3-4 documents to prove who I say I am. According to the Constitution of the USA, I am innocent until proven Guilty and he burden of proof falls on the accuser.

When I got my first license in GA in 1998, I put my index finger on a reader and turned in my FL drivers License and left with a License to drive in GA.

Now the State is saying that they need proof that I am really who I say I am. Well State of GA, if you doubt my assertion that I am who I say I am,prove that I am not who I say I am.

I did less than what the DDS is requiring to get my Concealed carry permit.

This is a burden on the working poor. People have to pay to get their Birth Certificates and for some the time involved and money for them to supply the Sate with these extra documents, is just not possible.

You also have a bunch of people who don't have a Utility bill in their name, my husband would be one of those people. While serving in the Military, it was easier to have all bills in my name so I could call about any issues that might come up, so what will he give as proof of his residence? And shouldn't he be able to present his Military ID and that be enough for the State?

Where are all the people that scream about BIG Government on this issue?

Georgia, you have my index finger print and that should be enough.

It worries me that the only concerns over this new law is the TIME it takes to get this done and not the burden it places on citizens.
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