Tag Archives: driver license

TN driver license renewal soon good for 8 years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee drivers who renew their licenses next year won’t have to go through the process again for eight years.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security says the change from five years includes all classifications of driver licenses and identification licenses, including commercial driver licenses and motorcycle licenses.

The change is the result of legislation proposed this year to improve customer traffic flow at driver services centers and takes effect Monday.

Note: The change is projected to save the state $6.4 million per year besides reducing wait time at license centers, as noted at the time it was approved. Previous post HERE.

Driver’s license vision tests proposed for older Tennesseans

Tennesseans over the age 76 would be required to get a vision test prior to renewal of their driver’s licenses under legislation proposed by state Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon.

Vison testing for older citizens seeking a license renewal has been proposed periodically in various forms during past legislative sessions, but was always defeated. Pody’s HB1423, recently pre-filed for consideration in the 2016 session that begins in January, sets a higher age standard that prior bills – most starting the vision test requirement at age 65.

Since renewals are required only every five years, setting the age at 76 means the proposed new law will not impact most citizens until they are aged 80 or older, Pody said. The bill was filed in response to constituents concerned that an older friend or relative was really not capable of driving competently, but reluctant to start an argument over the issue, he said.

“It’s a difficult subject to bring up in a family,” he said. “It’s hard to tell parents, or an aunt or uncle, that maybe it isn’t as safe for them to drive are it used to be.”

With passage of the bill, Pody said, the state would be saying “let’s make sure your eyes are still working” and that would “let them down as easy as we can” in facing the reality of the impacts of aging.

The bill allows an individual to submit a written statement from an ophthalmologist or optometrist on the renewal applicant’s vision capabilities, as corrected with eyeglasses or otherwise, in lieu of going through a Department of Safety test. It would take effect on July 1, 2016, and would not apply to persons applying for renewal prior to that date.

House kills bill banning alcohol sales to those with three or more DUIs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A House panel has defeated a proposal to ban alcohol sales to people with three or more drunken driving convictions.

The House budget subcommittee rejected the measure sponsored by Republican Rep. John Holsclaw Jr. on a voice vote on Tuesday. The companion bill had been awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.

The bill (HB744) would have required the words “No Alcohol Sales” be printed on the license of people with at least three DUI convictions for between five and 15 years.

The measure would have required affected drivers to pay the $12 to include the language on their licenses. Critics noted that the bill would not affect alternative ID like passports and that separate legislation seeks to do away with universal carding requirements for people who look over 50.

Legislators like longer licensing (for driving and guns)

Tennesseans will soon be renewing their driver’s licenses every eight years instead of every five years under one bill given final approval by the Legislature last week while handgun permit holders will be able to a lifetime license without renewal under another.

The driver’s license bill (HB198) is projected to save the state $6.4 million annually and the Republican sponsors, Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains and Rep. Tilman Goins of Morristown, say it will substantially reduce waiting times at Department of Safety driver’s license station — easing longstanding complaints from residents.

“This may be the best bill this year,” Niceley declared in a brief Senate floor debate. The bill passed the Senate 33-0 and was approved in the House 96-0.

Currently, driver’s licenses are renewed every five years, typically on the license holder’s birthday, at a cost of $19.50 — or $3.90 per year — for the standard “type D” license. The new bill the cost for a “D” license will be $28 for eight years, or $3.50 per year, according the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee staff.

Though not initiated by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, Department of Safety officials have endorsed it and the governor is expected to sign the bill.

The same can be said for the bill authorizing lifetime handgun carry permits (SB700), though it stirred more debate — mostly from Democrats questioning how criminal background checks of permit holders, now conducted at each renewal, will be handled under the lifetime permit system. As amended, the bill calls for the department to run a background check every five years for lifetime permit holders.
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Dept. of Safety staff instructed not to tell public about computer glitches

Department of Safety and Homeland Security officials told employees not to tell the public about glitches causing problems in the launch of a new driver license computer system last month, according to WTVF TV.

The new computer system was two years in the making and was finished on budget at $30 million. (Note: News release HERE.) But when it went online in mid-February, some employees did not seem ready.

On March 3, we found people waiting for hours at the drivers license reinstatement center on Murfreesboro Road. Security personnel tried to calm nerves as people were told to come back the next day.

“I’ve been here Monday and Tuesday at 8:45 and I didn’t get,” one customer said.

… A day after the Shelbyville complaint all district managers were told, “Do not tell customers that we have a new system that is not working.” The email continued, “We don’t want the public to think we spent 30 million dollars on a system that doesn’t work when that is not the problem.”

Hogan responded after we showed him the email, “The person that wrote that email was just trying to stress, ‘let’s be patient.’ We know there’s a transition period. This is not something we expect to last a long time.”

Hogan emphasized the system does in fact work, but some employees were not comfortable using it.
… “Were there some minor glitches? Absolutely, but overall, I think we are past that and everyone should be pleased with the product,” Hogan said.

State replacing 3,500 TN drivers’ licenses after foulup

Some 3,500 Tennesseans who got new driver’s licenses Feb. 17-19 at state driver service centers or online accidentally received licenses with “Not for Federal Identification” printed on them, reports the News Sentinel.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security said the snafu was “a printing error,” and that it will mail “a new permanent card, without the misprint,” to those people, by the end of the day Tuesday.

People who received those licenses will get a letter explaining the misprint and asking them to return the incorrect license via an enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope, said Dalya Qualls, spokeswoman for the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

“We will mail the letters to those citizens affected within the next 24 hours,” Qualls said Monday afternoon. “The new driver’s licenses or ID cards will be mailed separately from a secure print farm” in Washington state, which prints all Tennessee’s driver’s licenses.

Some states do issue a license with “Not for Federal Identification” printed on it, because they let residents choose to get a driver’s license or ID without presenting the documents the federal government accepts as proof of identity. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said those reasons might include “personal preference, religious conviction, or the inability or decision not to provide original documents needed to verify identity, citizenship, or lawful status in the United States.”

But Qualls said Tennessee has never offered that option, and that no valid Tennessee driver’s license will have “Not for Federal Identification” printed on it.

“Every Tennessee driver’s license can be used as federal identification,” because the state verifies the federally accepted documents before issuing licenses, she said. Those renewing their licenses have documents on file with the state; new applicants must present documents to prove their identity and citizenship, such as a birth certificate, Social Security card or other documents listed on the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security website.

Qualls said the department learned of the error from the vendor, MorphoTrust USA, the evening of Feb. 24. In addition to postage costs, the licenses cost $2.23 each to print. Qualls said the department is still determining whether MorphoTrust will be responsible for some or all of the cost.

Note: This expands, updates and replaces earlier post.

You won’t be able to renew your TN driver’s license online this weekend

News release from state Department of Safety
NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced that online services offered by its Driver Services Division will not be available over the upcoming President’s Day weekend to allow time to make improvements to the statewide driver license computer system.

Online driver services will not be available to citizens starting at 5:00 p.m. CST on Friday, February 13. Online services will resume at 7:00 a.m. CST on Tuesday, February 17. All state offices are closed on Monday, February 16 for President’s Day.

Online driver services not available during this interruption include the renewal of driver licenses, requesting duplicate driver licenses, requesting to make change of address, making reinstatement payments, ordering driver histories, taking practice driver license tests, and scheduling road test appointments. Two customer service phone numbers will also be unavailable during that time: the toll-free customer service number at which citizens may receive automated driver license reinstatement and status information (866-903-7347), and the number to call to schedule non-commercial road tests (866-849-3548).

“We want to give citizens plenty of notice about the interruption in services. The stoppage is critical to making necessary improvements to the driver license computer system which is antiquated and in serious need of updating. This temporary online inconvenience will ultimately improve our customer service, both online and inside our driver services centers statewide,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

In addition to online services, 40 self-service kiosks, at which citizens may renew or replace driver licenses, will be out of service starting at 5:00 p.m. CST on Friday, February 13. The kiosks will resume service at 7:00 a.m. CST on Tuesday, February 17. The department has 40 self-service kiosks at various locations across the state. For a list of locations, visit www.tn.gov/safety/dlmain.shtml.

Judge complains about closing Chattanooga drivers license center

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A Chattanooga judge is questioning a decision by the state to close the county’s only center that reinstates driver’s licenses.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/19fjTYZ) reports City Judge Russell Bean thinks the closure will lead to more unlicensed drivers.

“(The state) is leaving the centers in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis open, but Chattanooga seems to be getting left out. I don’t think it’s right for the citizens down here,” Bean said.

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security said on Wednesday the Hamilton County Driver License Reinstatement Center would close next month because it didn’t get enough use.

The newspaper said it registered 4,426 transactions through September. By comparison, the reinstatement center in Davidson County had 19,066 transactions, the center in Shelby County had 11,594 and the one in Knox County had 7,647.

In a letter questioning the closure, Bean said the decision will have negative consequences.

“I do hope that the Department of Safety realizes that this is just going to create more people driving without a driver’s license,” Bean wrote. “This just exacerbates an already tremendous problem of people driving in our state without insurance.”

Department of Safety and Homeland Security spokeswoman Dalya Qualls said it’s possible that other Chattanooga centers could add reinstatement services.

Driver’s license name change difficult for TN same-sex couples; lawsuit possible

Tennessee officials won’t let same-sex couples married in other states change a name on a driver’s license unless they get a court order, a procedure that typically costs $150 to $200, reports The Tennessean. And this may be another basis for a pending lawsuit to require recognition of same-sex marriages within Tennessee.

There are two potential legal arguments, said Steven Mulroy, a University of Memphis law professor specializing in civil liberties. One is that the Tennessee ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause — state laws can’t discriminate. The other is that it violates the constitution’s full faith and credit clause, which says states must respect the judgment of other states.

As more Tennessee couples travel to New York, California and 11 other states, plus Washington, D.C., to legalize their unions, frustrations over roadblocks at home are increasing.

People can use their marriage certificates to change their names on various forms of federal ID, such as Social Security cards and passports. They’re easily using married names on credit cards and other financial documents. But when they go to change them on their driver’s license or other state documents, their marriage certificates aren’t enough.

“I went into Cookeville for my new Social Security card using my marriage certificate, and they said I should have it in four days to two weeks,” said Byrdstown resident Neil Stovall, who wants to become Neil Irby after his Aug. 17 wedding in Niagara Falls, N.Y., to Harry Irby. “But what about the name on my driver’s license? My concealed handgun carry permit? To me, they’re denying me my constitutional right to happiness. The state government seems to have a problem with it when no one else does.”

Rockford resident Gwen Castro, who is Gwen Schablik on her New York marriage certificate, went to three driver’s license centers in Knox and Blount counties hoping to find a sympathetic worker the way a friend had. She didn’t.

“At that point, the rejection had gotten to me,” she said. “I went outside. I was just crying. My wife never came in with me, she was waiting in the car because we didn’t want to draw any attention.”

It’s impossible to count how many gay couples marry elsewhere and make their homes in Tennessee, but a University of California, Los Angeles study of 2010 census data puts the figure near 2,000. The number could be significantly higher with the DOMA ruling and more states granting same-sex marriages.

Without a driver’s license name that agreed with the one on his Social Security card, Oak Ridge resident Jeremy May — who married his husband two years ago in Washington, D.C. — wasn’t able to take a drug test for a much-needed job working with children with autism. He was turned away from the license bureau in Clinton, Tenn., Tuesday when he went in with his marriage certificate.

By Thursday, he’d filled out paperwork for a legal name change and filed it at the Anderson County courthouse for $179.50. By 10 a.m. Friday, May had already successfully represented himself in a five-minute appearance before a judge, received his court-ordered name change and gone back to the license bureau, where the same employee he encountered before tried to reject him even with the order. A co-worker corrected the man, and May had his temporary driver’s license a few minutes later.

Veterans can get distinctive TN driver’s license

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Honorably discharged veterans may now obtain specially designated driver’s licenses in Tennessee.

The licenses recognizing veterans’ military service were authorized under a 2011 state law, but the designation could not be included until a recent redesign of Tennessee driver’s licenses.

The new licenses feature an image of the state Capitol and a skyline of other recognizable structures such as the Pyramid in Memphis, the Sunsphere in Knoxville and the skyscraper known as the “Batman Building” in Nashville.

Veterans must present their discharge papers to receive the special designation on their licenses or photo ID cards. No extra fee applies for the designation when licenses are renewed.

Here’s the Department of Safety press release:
NASHVILLE — Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder today announced that honorably discharged veterans may now visit any driver services center in the state to obtain a specially designated veteran driver license or photo identification card.

Legislation authorizing the state to publically recognize veterans’ military service was passed in 2011. The veteran designation could not be offered, however, until the latest redesign of driver licenses and photo ID cards. A newly designed card and a new process called “central issuance,” in which driver licenses and photo ID cards are mailed to citizens from a central location, are now being used in all driver services centers.
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