CHEYENNE — Drivers’ license examiners are having to spend more time with each applicant because of the federal security requirements of the Real-ID Act, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation is asking state lawmakers for help.
WYDOT officials estimate it takes 20 to 30 minutes to process the documents required for a new driver’s license application. It used to take half that time. With the new requirements, even a renewal can take 10 to 15 minutes — even if applicants have all of their documents.
The result has been longer lines at most offices, higher demand on employees and more stress for everyone involved.
“The logjam is having to scan the documents,” Tom Loftin, administrator of support services for WYDOT, told the Joint Appropriations Committee on Monday.
The licensing employees must physically inspect the documents and are trained to look for certain things that might suggest a security problem.
Once the driver’s license renewals are processed, the wait time should improve, but it will never be as fast as it was before Real-ID.
Rep. Rosie Berger, R-Big Horn, said one cause of a glitch in the system is the need to show an address. Berger said she has had a box number for an address at her home for many years.
To improve the wait time, WYDOT requested five new positions in the driver’s license field offices in its 2013-14 budget request.
Gov. Matt Mead recommended two positions and a third to be transferred from within the department.
In denying the other two positions, the governor cited his desire “to minimize growth in government and maximize efficiencies with existing personnel and resources.”
WYDOT was the second agency on the list Monday as the Joint Appropriations Committee resumed its budget hearings, which will culminate late this month when members mark up the state budget.
The committee’s budget will then go to the full Legislature when it convenes Feb. 13.
The committee asked state agencies to bring budgets showing the impact of 2, 5 and 8 percent cuts when they’re due up over the next three weeks.
Meanwhile, WYDOT officials, including director John Cox, told the committee Monday of the stress and high turnover among Wyoming Highway Patrol dispatchers, who must sometimes perform double duty to cover the increase in calls.
During a recent budget period, the department paid more than $700,000 in overtime for dispatchers.
The department asked for six new dispatcher positions. Mead recommended two.
The governor cut $182 million from WYDOT’s original request and recommended a $297 million budget for the coming biennium, which is still about $50 million higher than the department’s current standard budget.