AUSTIN, Texas - Nearly 700,000 Texans had their driver’s licenses expire during the statewide stay-at-home order. Since, the Texas Department of Public Safety opened their offices back in May the state agency experienced a backlog of customer service needs.
To keep both residents and employees safe during the pandemic, TxDPS created an online appointment system allowing people to book limited in-person appointments six months in advance. Offices across the state are open and some are open for select services on the weekend.
A long line of people stood outside the South Austin TxDPS location waiting to confirm their appointment time and get their temperature checked before entering the building.
Veronica Cantu booked her appointment back in July.
She said she was concerned her license expired during the stay-at-home order and then learned about the extension provided. Those whose Texas licenses or ID’s expired after March 13th will remain valid until 60-days after the state’s Disaster Declaration has been lifted.
TxDPS will also notify the public when the extension period is lifted. All local and state officials have been notified of the expiration and waivers can be printed for drivers to carry with them.
Daisy Contreras made the trip from Lockhart, she had no idea there was an extension and wanted to get her license renewed as soon as possible. “In Lockhart, they had them till February,” Conteras said, referring to Lockhart being booked solid. “I wasn’t going to wait that long.“
Paul Molina was one of the lucky people standing in line Tuesday morning.
He was instructed to check the online appointments daily for cancelations and found a slot at the South Austin location. “Austin is completely booked for the next appointment, sometimes you’ll find in December of this year, otherwise it’s January or as far as March into next year,” said Molina.
The TxDPS media and communications team, in an email, replied:
“We understand the frustrations of customers who are having to wait to secure an appointment, and we appreciate their patience as we work to keep both them and our staff members as safe as possible while navigating this unprecedented global pandemic.”
TxDPS encourages people to check availability often and in multiple areas.
Another challenge they’ve experienced is people booking appointments and not showing up. The no show rate for May 26th through August 7th was 28%.
Driver license offices are using a standby queue to help offset the gap created when someone does not show for their appointment. TxDPS described the queue like an airline standby list. A person can wait to see if there is a cancelation that day and be seen.
However, there is no guarantee waiting in person will secure a same-day appointment. Each office sets a number of standby slots.
DPS is taking extensive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19:
- All staff members and customers who are taking a driving test will be required to wear face masks or facial coverings.
- Every person (staff members and customers) will be screened for symptoms prior to coming into a DL office; this includes having their temperature checked.
- Customers may be asked to reschedule their appointment if they do not pass the safety screening.
- Only actual customers will be allowed into DL offices. This will help limit capacity and ensure everyone can maintain a safe social distance. Exceptions include: persons needing ADA accommodations; elderly persons; parents with small children; and parents and legal guardians needed to complete a transaction.
- DPS staff will sanitize workstations and equipment between each customer transaction.
- Eye examinations will no longer require physical contact with an eye testing machine.
- Customers must pay with a credit card, check or money order. NO CASH PAYMENTS.