PIERRE, S.D. – Scheduled appointments are making the process of obtaining or renewing a South Dakota driver license quicker and more convenient for more and more state residents.
Since July, the South Dakota Driver Licensing Program has offered scheduled appointments at exam stations in the state’s larger cities. The Driver Licensing Program began offering scheduled appointments last summer at the direction of Governor Dennis Daugaard. Allowing citizens to make appointments lets them fit renewals and other services into their daily schedules. That has helped to reduce the wait times at the busier stations, said Cindy Gerber, Director of the Driver Licensing Program.
“It gives our customers the option of making an appointment the same way they do for a medical or dental visit, instead of traveling to the exam station and waiting in line,’’ Gerber said. “It is growing in popularity. We continue to take walk-in customers as always, but those with scheduled appointments move immediately to the next available examiner when they walk in the door.’’
The option is available in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen and Watertown. To schedule an appointment for driver license or ID card renewal in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen or Watertown, applicants may go online (http://dps.sd.gov/licensing/driver_licensing/default.aspx) or call 1-800-952-3696. Applicants may still choose to appear in person at any exam station for driver license services.
A combination of staffing problems and the always busy summer season resulted in longer than acceptable wait times, sometimes an hour or more, at exam stations in Sioux Falls last July. Scheduling appointments was among several steps Governor Daugaard directed driver licensing officials to take to reduce the time citizens waited in line. During December, average wait times at the Sioux Falls exam stations were less than 12 minutes.
To increase efficiency and visibility, the Driver Licensing Program is combining services currently offered at two Sioux Falls locations into one, larger exam station. That station will be located near the intersection of Russell Street and Kiwanis Avenue. It is expected to be in operation early this spring.
The improvement plan also included creating a Twitter account, allowing citizens to follow real-time tweets on wait times during each day. Interested citizens may follow sddriverlicense on Twitter for updates on wait times at the Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Aberdeen exam stations and for other news and general information on the Driver Licensing Program.
The Driver Licensing Program is also asking legislators for authority to offer license renewals by mail or online, Gerber said. SB45 has passed the Senate and will be discussed in the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The measure would allow citizens to renew a driver license online ever other five-year cycle. The option would be available to those who already hold a federally compliant driver license or non-driver ID card.
“It’s one more way we are trying to make the process more accessible and user-friendly,’’ Gerber said. “Governor Daugaard said in his State-of-the-State message that he wants citizens to be able to do state business online, not standing in line. The online renewal plan is a response to the Governor’s policy.’’
Using the online renewal, an applicant would be able to access the Driver Licensing Program website and follow a series of prompts. Results of a current vision exam would be required, and program officials are working on the best methods of meeting that requirement without inconveniencing citizens.
Online renewal would be available every other five-year renewal cycle. To take advantage of that convenient service, every license holder would need a federally compliant card. That requires proof of identity, date of birth, Social Security number, verification of any legal name changes and proof of current residential address.
Driver license customers have been providing such information and obtaining federally compliant cards since Dec. 31, 2009, when a law passed by the 2009 Legislature took effect. Since then, more than 435,000 South Dakotans – more than 70 percent of the state’s 603,000 licensed drivers – have successfully obtained federally compliant cards.
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