For Georgians who dread waiting in long lines to get their licenses renewed, relief could be around the corner. A new proposal includes self-service kiosks at the state’s busiest driver services centers and some grocery stores.
Spencer Moore, the Georgia Department of Driver Services commissioner, asked lawmakers for $1.2 million for the kiosks when the Legislature amends this year’s budget. He said during hearings Tuesday the department needs a total of $76.8 million for the next fiscal year, $7.2 million more than the current year, which ends July 1.
Moore said the machines would take pictures and print temporary licenses and permits for people seeking to renew their current credentials. The idea is to reduce wait times and improve efficiency, he said in an interview after his presentation.
“You don’t have to spend time waiting for staff,” Moore said. “You have the flexibility of getting that self-service completed, as well as getting a temporary permit or temporary license at the same time.”
Staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to longer waits and lines, said Moore. He told lawmakers the turnover rate for driver examiners over the last two years reached levels between 48% and 65% and that the cost of a kiosk is roughly equivalent to a driver examiner’s salary.
The department would like to buy 15 license kiosks for its customer service centers. The machines are similar to 53 already in use for tag renewal at some grocery stores and tag offices around the state. The commissioner said he would like to use those for license renewal as well.
“What we hope to do is give customers options,” Moore said. “We want to expand those options as much as possible.”
One customer at the service center in Kennesaw, Chris Nagle from Marietta, said he believes kiosks would help cut down wait times “dramatically.”
“They don’t have a lot of employees right now,” he added. “Quicker is always better.”
Laronda Taylor, a driver services employee at the Kennesaw center, said the kiosks may help, but she expressed skepticism they would have a dramatic impact because staff “do way more than just renewals.”
“That’s just a tiny part of all the things we do at the counter,” she added.
If the Legislature approves the budget as proposed, Moore said the kiosks could be operational as early as July.
Thirteen of the 15 kiosks the department wishes to place at its customer service centers would be in the metro Atlanta area.