We're used to traffic jams on the road, but on foot? This week, our NBC 5 cameras captured lines forming out the door in Grand Prairie and in Hurst - all to get a driver's license.
"I knew I had to come in and actually step through the process and go through it,” said Linda Tope who just moved here from Florida.
As a new resident, she had to come in person and brave the wait and the obstacles. She chose the Hurst location.
"By the time that I had my number here, realized oh, I left that important information at home,” she said.
After an hour round trip to get that proof of registration, she was surprised to see her number still hadn’t been called.
The number that was given to me, I'm still able to use it, so I made good use of my time, Tope said.
She's now on her way to becoming a Texas Driver, but her route could have been easier. According to DPS, the biggest contributing factor to long waits is people who have the option to renew online, by phone or by mail, but don’t.
"This in turn inflates the wait times for all customers, including those required to go into an office to complete their transaction (for example, customers getting a driver license for the first time),” said DPS Press Secretary Tom Vinger.
Vinger said the agency is taking steps to cut down on overcrowding at smaller locations by encouraging people to go to mega centers. It also plans to talk to lawmakers about adding staff and facilities during the next legislative session in January.
In the meantime, Tope has this advice for people who can avoid the lines, but come anyway..
"Don't! Figure out a way to go online.”
At many locations, you can reserve a spot in line from your phone or computer to help cut down on wait time. That's something many new people like Tope aren't aware of. Also, make sure you double check the paperwork you need to bring before arriving in person. We spotted several people being turned away because they were missing required documents. As for the busiest days of the week - DPS said avoid Mondays and Fridays, especially in the mornings and afternoons.
Before heading to a DPS location, check online to see if your renewal of a driver’s license or ID card can be be handled online, by phone, or by mail. You can also call 1-866-DL-RENEW (1-866-357-3639)
In many offices, you can schedule a drive test online three months in advance. Customers are urged to plan ahead and not delay scheduling a drive appointment.
Additional tips from DPS:
- Another underutilized option available to customers is to renew their DL or ID card early. You can renew up to two years in advance, and renewing early does not impact the expiration date. If an office visit is required, renewing early allows customers to choose a convenient time that best fits their schedule and avoids the busiest times at the DL office.
- Mondays and Fridays tend to be the busiest days, as well as after holidays. Overall, summer is the busiest time of the year. Try to plan your visit around these high-volume times, if possible.
- Before you go to the office, make sure you have all the proper documentation, including documents needed for residency requirements.