The problems people are having getting their Georgia drivers licenses renewed can be traced to a lack of preparation by the state Department of Driver Services, state House Speaker David Ralston said Monday in Columbus.
Ralston was among a small group of state Republican leaders flying around the state this week, speaking on issues facing the state and campaigning for fellow legislators. During a press conference at the Columbus Municipal Airport, Ralston spoke on issues ranging from health care, job creation and criminal justice reform.
In the last legislative session, the General Assembly made changes in the requirements to get a state driver's license. Applicants must have an original or certified copy of their birth certificate, Social Security card and two forms of proof or address.
Confusion about the requirements among applicants and a lack of preparation by the Georgia Department of Driver Services have caused long lines and much frustration among all involved, according to numerous news reports from around the state.
"I think we did know that there would be some delays, but frankly, I've been a little disappointed by the level of preparation by the Department of Drivers Services," Ralston said. "I think they understand now that this is taking more time."
Many of the changes that state made were required by federal law, so state lawmakers' hands were tied, Ralston said.
"In the post-9/11 world, we have a lot more security measures that we are required to implement," Ralston said. "We have had some problems, but some are being ironed out as we speak. I've communicated to the department that we need to do whatever it takes to make sure Georgians are well served, and frankly, I think in the opening days of that they weren't."
Area state Reps. Richard Smith and Kip Smith were among the GOP dignitaries at the fly-through, which included Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Majority Leader Larry O'Neal.
Richard Smith agreed with Ralston's assessment of the drivers license renewal woes.
"The Department of Driver Services could have done a much better job of letting people know that you need to have birth certificate, Social Security card and two proofs of record that you live where you say you live," Smith said.
"That's not a big demand, but it is if you don't know it."