It may provide some relief or it may not. But at least DeSoto County supervisors are taking their concerns about how those coming to the county’s Driver License Stations are being served to the top.
Supervisors have crafted a resolution to be sent to Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves expressing residents’ frustrations about long wait times and about how customers are being treated when coming into the two stations.
Those stations are located at 6569 Cockrum Street in Olive Branch and at 159 License Drive in Nesbit.
Supervisor Jessie Medlin brought up the issue at a recent meeting. It was his comments that led to the board deciding to communicate through a resolution to the governor’s office.
“We’ve had problems off and on ever since they’ve been over there. We own that building and I was real instrumental in working to get them there about 25 years ago,” the Olive Branch representative said. “What bothers me is the rudeness and how they’re treating people. People have to wait 3-4 hours there.”
Part of the problem, officials say, comes from new software slowing the process of issuing the license cards.
Mississippi is now a state that offers REAL ID cards, the result of a 2005 act passed by Congress in the wake of the September 11 disaster. The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production. The act also prohibits federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), from accepting driver licenses and ID cards from states not meeting the minimum requirements.
The technology in issuing the REAL ID license cards is slowing up the process, according to Lt. Ray Hall with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS) in a communication to DeSoto County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard.
“Our REAL ID system operates a little slower,” Hall wrote. “Instead of processing our citizens in 10 minutes, now it takes 15-20 minutes per customer. If the customer is wanting a CDL, or they are needing processed as a sex offender, their processing time increases up to 45 minutes. However, I believe that we will all agree we want safety for our families over speed to get processed.”
Lynchard, however, points out that people needing to renew a license or have a new one issued can plan to spend some time waiting at the license station.
“The problem is they only have 4-5 computers and it takes over an hour to get one driver license and you’ve only got two going at one time, so you can imagine how few people you can serve at a time,” Lynchard said. “It’s unacceptable. The system that they have is just ridiculous. People are frustrated from the time to get up to the front of lines.”
Lynchard believed the wait time is actually longer because of when the DPS starts counting.
“We don’t believe they’re even starting to count until you get to the door and get your number,” Lynchard said. “You’d be waiting outside for two hours or more before you even get up and get your number. Then, if the line is too long, they send you home. It’s a horrible system.”
Hall has received photos from the Board of Supervisors showing the long lines waiting to get served at the Olive Branch and Nesbit stations. He told Lynchard the photos are indicative of what is happening across the state.
“The picture you have sent me, sadly, is a common scene in many of our offices every day,” Hall told Lynchard. “The state-wide average wait time for the month of May was 1:55:03. Our office in Batesville has an average wait time of 1:08:05, while the average wait time in Nesbit is 2:38:06. The reason the Batesville office seems to be more efficient compared to Nesbit is because the Batesville office does not have the customer volume.”
Hall added he has requested more personnel for the Nesbit location that he hopes will be on hand starting in July. Meanwhile, Medlin said he has been told by some people they would go to the Batesville station just to get through the process more quickly.
“I can’t blame people for being impatient,” Medlin said. “It’s also the way they treat people. It’s been that way for a long time.”
Meanwhile, if you’re needing to get your license cards issued or renewed, keep your emotions in check and bring some extra reading material. You may be waiting for awhile.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.