Long lines snarl driver's license office

Long lines caused short tempers Friday, as the Georgia Department of Driver Services concluded its first week operating under new rules that require additional identification be presented in person at DDS offices to renew licenses.

Hundreds of people were in line at the Beaver Ruin office in Gwinnett County when it opened at 7:30 a.m., and many of them had been there for two hours or more.

Peggy Walker of Lilburn brought her 15-year-old son, Gabriel, to get his learner's permit — their third attempt.

"The first time we did not have exactly what they asked us for ... and the second time we were pushed away from the line because too many people were here. So this is our third attempt at getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning and getting ready to be here at 7 and there was already a line of probably 100 people."

She said the experience has been "very frustrating. I've lived in this county 52 years and I can't believe we don't have a staff" large enough to accommodate the population.

"They should've announced this, put it out on the media, made everyone aware ... what they needed before they got here," she said.

Gabriel called it "frustrating" that he's not driving already.

Jim Krix and his daughter, Sarah, 15, came from Duluth to get her learner's permit, their second attempt.

"We didn't have the birth certificate the first time," Krix said.

The first time he came, he said, "they had only six lanes open; they still only have six lanes open. I don't really see them having ramped up to meet the need."

"Next time we're gonna grab a tent," Krix said.

Alysia Pennington of Lawrenceville was in line at 5:40 a.m. Friday, her fourth attempt to get her license renewed. She stood in line for three and a half hours Thursday before giving up.

"I'm hoping the fourth time is a charm," she said. Still, she was more understanding than many who were waiting. "Unfortunately, with all the identity theft, I do understand it's to protect us. So you have to bring your patience — and a book."

Joe Zimmerman of Alpharetta arrived at the Beaver Ruin office at 5 a.m.

"I came here yesterday at 7:32 and there was already a line inside and the line was wrapping outside, so I kept driving and knew that I would come here this morning. He brought an iPod, a book to read and some bills to pay.

"You just go with the flow ... it's a matter of understanding what you gotta deal with and trying to plan your time accordingly."

Under the new rules, which began Tuesday, drivers have to bring an original or certified birth certificate, passport or other primary identification; proof of Social Security number (a Social Security card, W-2 form or federal tax return), and two documents proving where they live.

Previous rules required these forms of identification when applying for a new driver's license or ID card, but now the forms are also required for renewals. Also, the first renewal after the law change must be done in person, not online.

Susan Sports, spokeswoman for the state Department of Driver Services, said the federal government required states to develop more secure identification in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The state has been implementing various changes to licenses and identification cards at different phases. The state has until 2017 to get licenseholders over age 50 in compliance.

Residents without the proper identification are issued a 120-day temporary license on security paper with holograms and photographs.

Sports said the new process will become smoother with time.

"Anytime we have a process change, there's a learning curve with the examiners, meaning it takes them longer to complete a transaction," she said. "I don't expect us evening out until next week."

AJC staff writers Pat Fox and Paige Cornwell contributed to this article.

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