It’s true, driver’s license renewal can take hours |

It’s true, driver’s license renewal can take hours

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Legend has it that it can take up to five hours to get a Colorado driver’s license renewed at the local driver’s license bureau, located in the Glenwood Springs Mall in West Glenwood.

If the results of an admittedly unscientific survey of customers at the bureau are any indication, the legends are true.

Or the complaints are valid, depending on how the matter is being viewed.

According to Mark Couch, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, the best way to avoid that long wait is to go through the renewal process online (see related box, A6).

“I did it myself once, and it was incredibly easy,” Couch said. “And guess what? I didn’t have to wait in line.”

An employee at the Glenwood Springs bureau, who declined to give her name due to departmental rules against talking to reporters, noted that the office is meant to have six employees but has been working at less than half its staff for months.

She said the staff currently is scrambling to train three new employees on the job, prior to their formal training and certification by the department.

Meanwhile, at the Glenwood Springs Mall, the waiting continues.

Shortly before noon on Tuesday, a reporter visited the Glenwood Springs bureau, which is at the western end of the mall’s covered shopping area, to see what could be learned by talking to some of the people waiting for service.

Clutching numbered tickets and watching an electronic display of which number was being served, perhaps 20 people were waiting.

One man had already spent the equivalent of a day and a half trying to get his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) renewed, and was still waiting to finish the battery of tests required for the renewal.

“Yesterday was a zoo,” said Randy Jenrich of Carbondale, who drives a truck for the Roaring Fork Valley Co-op.

“Today, it’s nothing,” he added, glancing at the half-empty seating area in the bureau.

On Monday, he said, he got to the bureau at around 2 p.m., and was there until 4 p.m., when he took his first test for the CDL renewal test on a computer terminal in the bureau.

Returning on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., he was still waiting to take the next in a battery of tests at shortly before noon.

He said he considered going to another town for his renewal, but added, “I figured I could get it done and get a half-day of work in.”

And although the Colorado Department of Revenue does have an online renewal process, CDL’s are not included.

Peering at the three clerks behind the counter at the Glenwood Springs license bureau, Jenrich thought about why it was taking so long and said flatly, “I just don’t think there’s any organization.”

Next to Jenrich, April Wylie of Rifle had been in her seat since 11:30 a.m. and did not expect to get out any time soon.

“I just need to change my name [on her license] because I got married a year ago and, well …,” she said with a sheepish smile.

Concerning the wait, she said, “I planned on it. Thank God I had a babysitter.”

Echoing Jenrich’s dismal assessment of the delay, Wylie said it takes many hours to get the simple chore done “because nobody knows what they’re doing.”

She had just watched the three bureau employees cluster around a computer terminal for a few minutes, talking animatedly to each other and peering at the screen before two of them went back to the counter to serve customers.

What Wylie observed may have been on-the-job training of new staff.

Sam Harvey of Aspen, seated outside the bureau office but close enough to see the display of ticket numbers, chuckled at a reporter’s question about how long he had been waiting.

“Time means nothing when you come to get your driver’s license,” he said philosophically. “It’s a Zen practice.”

Pressed for an answer, he said he had been on hand less than an hour, but would not be surprised to still be there several hours later.

“The upside is it probably promotes shopping. And what more can you ask for? Cool environment, great music,” he said, grinning at the piped music wafting through the space.

“I just came down here to do this today,” Harvey said, “so I’ve allowed the whole day to do it. I just hope it doesn’t take all day.”

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