A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

Driver's license system is broken and must be fixed

Mar 31, 2013 - Michael Gard, Riverton


I just returned from the experience of renewing my driver license. I received a letter in January informing me that I was due to renew, which a very much appreciated. Then it listed the items I would need to prove to Wyoming that I did indeed live in this state and was a citizen of this country: A birth certificate or valid U.S. passport. Any two of the following a Wyoming vehicle title or registration, a utility bill, pay stub, tax assessment, hunting license, rent receipt or lease agreement.

And one of these:, Social Security card, W-2 form, Bank statement that includes your full SSN or any official government doc with your name and SSN included.

If this were the end of the experience I would not be writing this letter. But this is just where the fun begins. My observations have nothing to do with the staff at the driver's license department because they were not only pleasant but most helpful.

The rest is somewhat disappointing to me. They only open the office in Riverton Monday, Thursday, and Friday expect for the first Monday of the month when they are in Dubois. They open the Lander office only on Tuesday and Wednesday of each week. On Thursday, March 21, there were a number of people waiting at 8 a.m., and after a period of time were told that the computers were not functioning and they would not be doing any business until they came back on line.

I called at 8 a.m. the following morning and they were back at work, so I went up and arrived at 8:10 and put my name on the sign-up sheet, I was about ninth on the list.

The waiting room is too small, and most of the chairs were filled, so I waited in the hall. A young man that didn't have a baby sitter had a small child (2 years old), and he had a friend watch this child while he took his exam.

I could only think how a mother with a couple of small children would be able to cope in a small room filled with strangers facing a two-hour wait just to scan her papers, collect $15, and take her picture. As I waited, the hall filled up behind me with very pleasant people many of whom had endured this experience a number of times, including the mother with the 15-year-old son taking the test for the fourth time.

My turn did come, and, after scanning me into the system, taking my money and my picture, my temporary license was produced. I was on my way out the door two hours and thirty minutes from my time of arrival. As I left I passed 20 souls waiting for their opportunity, about half in the waiting room and the other half having to stand in the hall.

These are things I heard while waiting: "I've been here before, so I took the entire day off from work so that I could get my license renewed." From an 80-year-old gentleman, "I think I was 21 when I came in this morning." "Is it still snowing, or has spring come" "I guess it will be all right if I leave and go the my doctor's appointment, I ll be back before it is my turn."

Here are some of my observations about the manner in which you choose to do this business of the people.

1. Of all the documents that you needed to produce the one of least value to the state of Wyoming is your current driver's license. You know, the one I have held for 44 consecutive years in this state. That document wasn't required to prove I lived here or for any other purpose. Your existing Wyoming driver's license should speak volumes in this process, not be of no value.

2. You are either woefully understaffed or you are requiring much too much information and effort to renew a drivers license. Hire some people, reduce some regulations and paperwork, or both. Open the offices more than a couple of days a week. You couldn t run a real business like this.

3. Provide a waiting room that is large enough for the number and kind of people that you are making wait for this service. Be considerate of mothers, children and older people that are required to wait hour after hour, or speed up the process so fewer people are waiting shorter periods of time.

4. For Pete sake the four elderly folks in front of me -- I'm 60, they were 80 -- could be sent through a different line.

5. Make the computers work, do it on paper, or be kind enough to post a sign that states we are closed until further notice so people are not just sitting around waiting while the staff collect a salary as if they had discharged their duties.

If I have seen anything in my life that is broken, this is it. Before we worry about getting a lottery commission, before we impose another tax to build roads, before we waste endless hours fighting over the education department, let's fix what can be fixed.

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