Dennis Jackson decided to get his driver's license renewed last week to avoid having to dig up a birth certificate and his original social security card.
Had he put if off until Tuesday, he figured he would be in for a much longer wait.
"I'm here today to renew it early before that system breaks in," the 43-year-old Ellenwood man said Friday, as he waited in line at the Department of Driver Services office by Turner Field. "I don't see why people who have been driving for 10 years or 20 years have to come up with their birth certificate."
As many as 750,000 Georgians whose licenses and state identification are up for renewal this year will find themselves trekking to the a state driver's license office before Dec. 31 with potentially long waits. A new rule requires them to bring documents proving they are who they say they are.
Susan Sports, spokewoman of the state Department of Driver Services, said the federal government required states to develop a more secure identification in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. The state has been implementing various changes to licenses and identification cards at different phases. The state has until 2017 to get license holders over age 50 in compliance.
"The majority of customers we have spoken with think it is a small incovenience to do something to increase homeland security," Sports said. "But there is always a group that doesn't appreciate the extra trouble."
Drivers, whether they have lived in Georgia five years or 50 years, will have to bring an original or certified birth certificate, social security card and proof of where they live.
An unexpired passport can substitute for a birth certificate. Power bills or bank statements can be used to prove residency at an address. For a complete list acceptable documents, go to the DDS website at http://www.dds.ga.gov/drivers/index.aspx.
Charles Selander blames Big Brother for the inconvenience. "You could use word Orwellian," he said.
Driver services believes the measure protects against identify theft by making it harder to get a driver's license in someone else's name, Sports said. Those concerned about giving personal information to DDS can be assured the department can protect against hackers, she said.
Sports noted that it's a one-time inconvenience. The next time a driver renews, he or she will be able to do it online.
The American Civil Liberties Union has opposed the "Secure ID" and "Real ID' programs nationwide for fears it will facilitate data tracking on individuals, said Azadeh Shahshahani, director of the National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director for the ACLU in Georgia.
A number of drivers, however, found the inconvenience acceptable. "When you weigh the lesser of the evils, you want to be safe," said Issic Alexander, 27, of northwest Atlanta.
Sports said the department has intensified recruiting and training to fill DDS positions, noting there are effectively 86 more examiners available this fiscal year. The agency is also using 95 temporary employees to answer general questions so examiners can focus on issuing driver's licenses, Sports said.
Anyone lacking proper documentation will be given a 120-day temporary license. People who can provide evidence of their citizenship but who do not have a birth certificate in some cases can receive a waiver, she said.
Leroy Trice, 24, counted himself lucky to have birthday before July, but he said he didn't have any problem with the regulation.
"If you are who you say you are, you should be able to get your birth certificate," the Ben Hill man said. "It is only going to be bad for procrastinators and thieves."
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