Some of you may have seen news stories about how these changes have caused long waits at Georgia Department of Driver Services offices. My office has received numerous phone calls and emails from the citizens of the 18th district voicing their concerns as well. I want to assure you that the Department of Driver Services has been working hard to make renewing or obtaining a Georgia ID as quick and easy as possible.
After the first month of operation, the Department of Driver Services released a graph that shows the tremendous improvement in customer wait times throughout the state:
Average Wait Customers Served
Week 1 1:31:58 47,925
Week 2 1:18:38 65,309
Week 3 1:03:50 66,523
Week 4 0:50:43 67,076
It is important to remember that any new process requires some initial time to implement; however, you can ensure a dramatic improvement in wait time if you come prepared with the necessary documents.
Those wishing to secure/renew a Georgia driver’s license or ID card will need to bring the following:
• At least one (1) original or certified document to prove primary identity
• At least one (1) document to prove social security number
• At least two (2) documents to prove Residential Address
• Appropriate Name Change documents, if needed
• Non-citizens will also need to bring a document to prove legal presence in Georgia
The implementation of the Georgia Department of Driver Services’ secure ID program was necessary in order for Georgia to be in compliance with the Federal Real ID Act of 2005. The Federal Real ID Act established new federal standards for state driver’s licenses and identification cards. In addition, it also set forth new requirements on what the federal government will and will not accept as identification for “official purposes” including:
• Boarding official aircrafts
• Entering federal buildings and nuclear plants
However, many of these requirements are not new. They simply replace language from the previous act – the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
There are a few important things to remember with these new guidelines – the first being that this is a phased process. Your current ID or license is valid until its expiration date – you do not need to go out and immediately renew your license or ID. However, the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005 states that anyone born before December 1, 1964, will have until December 1, 2017, to obtain the new ID cards or licenses. Therefore, you will need to renew at expiration or before December 1, 2017 to be compliant with federal standards – whichever comes first. Your current license will be accepted as a valid form of federal identification for the aforementioned “official purposes”, as long as that ID or license has not expired.
With identity theft becoming a growing concern for Georgians, the secure ID program serves to protect Georgia driver’s against license fraud and identity theft. With that in mind, the new documents are designed to be more difficult to counterfeit, alter or replicate. In addition, the new cards have several added security features, including ghost photos, a laser-engraved signature over the primary photo to minimize alterations and a tamper-resistant coating placed over the card.
If you have any additional questions about documentation or the process, please don’t hesitate to call the Georgia DDS office close to you – they are there to assist you during this transition. For more information on the types of documents you can bring and to create a custom checklist, visit the Department of Driver Services website at http://www.dds.ga.gov/SecureID/index.aspx.
Sen. Cecil Staton serves as Senate Majority Whip. He represents the 18th Senate District, which includes portions of Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Monroe, Peach, and Upson counties.