GUEST OPINION: The despairing process for renewal of a driver’s license
July 18, 2014
Editor's note: Sara Garton of Aspen shared with the PI this letter that she recently wrote to the governor.
Dear Governor Hickenlooper,
I have been a citizen of the state of Colorado since 1967, and this is the first time I have written a protest letter about state business.
This is not about fracking, marijuana or gun control; rather it concerns the aggravating, annoying, even despairing process for the renewal of a driver's license.
I dread when my Colorado license is about to expire because I know I will face long lines and at least two or three hours for my turn.
However, my recent experience was deplorable. In May I traveled to Glenwood Springs in a leased vehicle (I don't own a car as we have our efficient RFTA bus service and laudable Car-to-Go program) to the driver's license office to learn that their computer system was down, and a sign stated that there was no indication for how long.
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I noticed a poster announcing a website address for license renewal online. I returned home, downloaded and filled in the forms, and, since I am 71 years old, my eye doctor needed to fill in a form with any restrictions and the date of my last exam. Because my most recent eye exam was two months outside of the stipulated six months, I was required to renew at a driver's license office.
Recently, I repeated the process of reserving a vehicle and arrived at the driver's license office at 9 a.m. The number I pulled was 23 — even at that early hour. My number was not called until 2:45 p.m.! It then took 30 minutes to complete the paperwork, fingerprinting and photography, as the staff person bunched several people for the various steps.
There were only two people staffing an office with nearly 80 waiting applicants. Often, only one person was at the counter; he was then out of service for nearly an hour while he "caught up on paperwork." At one point, another staff person left the office with two dogs on leashes.
The majority of applicants had taken time off from work (many, the whole day), and several had parents or companions who had accompanied them to Glenwood Springs. The operation was also slowed considerably when a 97-year-old woman in a wheelchair, accompanied by her son and an aide, arrived and was accepted immediately to begin a 45-minute process for an identification card for Medicaid.
Why are our driver's license offices even more understaffed and underfunded than in past years, when there is an increased demand for vehicle licenses with new immigrant licensees and specialized identification cards?
My frustrating day ended in Aspen, where I delivered the Car-to-Go two hours late and incurred a $30 penalty beyond the regular fee.