Tammy Kitten and her son Dylan, 18, walked out of the Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License office in Lubbock with smiles on their faces.
“It was very quick,” Kitten said about renewing her son’s driver license.
Not everyone is that lucky. Long wait times and high call volumes plague DPS, despite repeated attempts by the Legislature to improve the problems. It is a point of concern brought up in the Sunset Advisory Commission’s staff report on DPS.
One of the eight issues and recommendations outlined by the bipartisan commission aims to cut down on wait times and provide better customer service to more than 20 million Texans who have driver licenses or identification cards. The other topics cover border security, the agency’s motorcycle safety program, and other accountability measures.
The initial report suggests DPS close inefficient or low-performing driver license offices, consolidating efforts to provide higher quality service. The report also recommends agency leadership look for alternative ways to handle non-public safety related functions.
“Needs improvement,” said Travis Anderson, who operates a trucking company and spent Monday waiting at the driver license office for one of his drivers to get a commercial driver license.
Turning to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles could ease the burden on DPS, the report states. TxDMV currently processes car titles and registrations and specializes in customer service, according to the report. In 42 states, the DMV is a one-stop-shop, handling driver licenses, too. Texas is not one of them.
Dalton Hahn found that out the hard way. He recently moved from New Mexico and went to the DMV to get his license. He was told that was the wrong move.
“I went to DMV across town and they were like ‘No you’ve got to go to DPS,’ and it’s like ‘alright,'” he said with a sigh.
If TxDMV took over driver license responsibilities, Hahn said that could streamline the process.
“You wouldn’t have to go to different places,” he explained. “If you need a new ID and you need to register your vehicle, it’s the same thing all right there.”
A spokesperson for DPS said the agency would issue a formal response by the required deadline on May 10.
“DPS leadership looks forward to working with legislative members on the Sunset Advisory Commission regarding the various topics contained in the staff report and to fill in important gaps regarding details not included in this overview assessment,” DPS press secretary Tom Vinger said in a statement.
TxDMV spokesperson Creighton Root said Tuesday the department is “dedicated to customer service, consumer protection and the advancement of motor vehicle-related industries,” and the agency “looks forward to the public dialogue surrounding the important and impactful issue of driver licensing.”
“This function is critical to the citizens of Texas and demands a thorough and objective evaluation,” Root added. “The TxDMV will work diligently and cooperatively with DPS to ensure such an evaluation is provided to the Legislature should the Sunset Advisory Commission adopt the recommendation.”
The commission, which oversees the effectiveness of state agencies, will publish two additional reports after public hearings and extended conversations with lawmakers and agency leaders.