Putting long lines in the rearview: driver services continues technology update

Former Police Chief John Wagner

City of Warner Robins former Police Chief John Wagner poses with a Georgia driver's license. (Credit: Georgia Department of Drivers Services)

The Gist

The days of standing in long lines to get or renew a driver's license may soon be in the rearview mirror for good. 

Over the next month, Georgia drivers will continue to see significant updates in services as the Georgia Department of Driver Services continues its push to modernize through state-of-the-art technology and to cut back on long wait times caused by a shortage of workers and backlogs due to Covid-19.

What’s Happening

The department will roll out about 20 kiosks in its metro Atlanta offices where motorists can get or renew driver’s licenses, replace lost or stolen ones and record address changes. The rollout is a pilot program and will be extended to the rest of the state later, department spokesperson Susan Sports told State Affairs.

DDS Kiosk at Center Lobbies
Kiosk at center lobbies at DDS locations. (Credit: Department of Driver Services)

At the same time, the kiosks you use at Kroger and Publix to renew your car tags  “are being updated and modified to add the driver's license [renewal services] to them,” Sports said. Initially, those kiosks will renew licenses and ID cards. More services will be added later. The grocery store kiosks are run by the state Department of Revenue.

Driver services  has also taken steps to make traveling easier for Georgians.

The department now allows Georgians to add their driver’s license or state ID to Apple Wallet on iPhone and Apple Watch, making check-in at airports quick, easy and secure. It is not intended as a replacement for a physical copy of your license or ID but it can speed up the process at TSA checkpoints. Android users will soon have a similar option, Sports said. Georgians meanwhile also have the option of renewing their driver’s license online.

Despite the online presence, some people still prefer to come into the office, Sports said. Now, they’ll have the option of using a self-serve kiosk rather than having to stand in a long line.

Why It Matters

The state is spending close to $2 million to add the kiosks and update services for Georgia drivers, an initiative driven by fewer department staff and greater demand for quicker services

“The kiosks especially should help with the agency’s workforce issues,” DDS Commissioner Spencer R. Moore said. “If you have a self-service kiosk that is handling that renewal customer coming in, not having to take a break or a lunch or take vacation, it’s going to really offset some of those staffing challenges that we have.”

Commissioner Spencer Moore. (Credit: Beau Evans)

 The new technology isn’t just for giving short-handed staff some help. It also is intended to head off a potential rise in wait times once a round of license expirations kicks in over the next two years, Sports said.

“Having a self-service kiosk option will save wait time for customers,” she said. “In turn, the driver examiners will be able to assist those customers that cannot be served in any way but in person. It will save customers time because if they use the kiosk, they do not have to fill out the required ‘application for service’ or take a ticket number for service as is required for all customers visiting in person.”

While as many as 45 Department of Motor Vehicle agencies in the United States were using some type of self-service kiosks in 2021, there is still a large number of government agencies that have not yet taken advantage of the technology, according to Kiosk Marketplace.

Kiosks at grocery stores
DDS Kiosks at grocery stores. (Credit: Department of Driver Services)

What’s Next?

Meanwhile in Georgia, the Department of Driver Services’ kiosks are currently wrapping up the test phase, Sports said, and should be rolling out over the next 30 days at the 65 DDS offices statewide and in grocery stores.

“That’s the wave of the future and our customers are on the go. They want more options,” said Sports. “In the old days, you'd go to the DDS and you would take a lounge chair and you’d take a book and you knew you were going to be there all day. So now … our service goal statewide is less than 30 minutes.”

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Meet Spencer R. Moore, Georgia’s Driver Services Chief

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Have questions, comments or tips? Contact Tammy Joyner on X @lvjoyner or at [email protected].

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Header image: City of Warner Robins former Police Chief John Wagner poses with a Georgia driver's license. (Credit: Georgia Department of Drivers Services)