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Drivers face months-long wait for license

November 16, 2018

If you think the lines to get a driver’s license at state Driver and Vehicle Services offices are long, that’s just the beginning.

New applicants can expect to wait several months to get their licenses. People renewing their Minnesota licenses are facing longer wait times as well.

Nicole Scott, who moved to Rochester from Illinois in July, applied for a license shortly after moving to town. In August, her wallet was stolen along with her canceled Illinois ID. She wasn’t worried initially, knowing her old identification had holes punched in it and was invalid without her temporary yellow paper she received at the driver services office.

Then came the wait. As of today, she’s still waiting for her new ID.

In September, she had to cancel plans to travel to Texas for a conference for work because she couldn’t board a plane without a photo ID. She has been unable to make transactions at her bank.

“Thank goodness for direct deposit and ATMs,” Scott said.

As the holidays approach, she might again have to cancel travel plans.

“It’s like you don’t exist without having a photo ID,” Scott said.

She has gotten few answers from state officials except an extension on her yellow temporary license to 120 days from the 60 days it was valid when issued at the beginning of August.

“But what good does that do me without a picture ID?” she said.

Part of the delay for new drivers is that new Minnesota license applications are reviewed at the Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division headquarters

The process can take between several weeks to several months, Megan Leonard, public information officer at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, wrote in a statement about the license delays. Leonard said fall is one of the busiest times of the year for new drivers to take their road tests as they apply for their first license.

In September, new license applicants automatically receive a sticker making their yellow temporary licenses valid for 120 days.

Renewals account for about 60 percent of license applications, according to Leonard. People waiting on renewals face long wait times. Adam Salmi, of Rochester, applied by mail in June and never received his license. He applied again in August and waited more than two months before receiving it.

Megan Munroe, of Eyota, had to extend her August-issued temporary license in October. She updated her valid Minnesota license for a name change. Despite having her canceled ID and the temporary license, she encounters some hassles whenever she needs to use an ID.

“Whenever I go to the credit union, they give me havoc,” Munroe said.

First-time license seekers are waiting months just to get a chance to apply for a license. Road test appointment slots are booked at most locations months outs. Commercial driver tests appointment slots are booked through January and beyond. For optimists, walk-in appointments do come available when someone cancels an appointment or doesn’t show up.

Leonard said smaller offices that conduct road tests like Hastings, Stillwater and Andover may have more availability than larger ones in metro areas.

For now, Minnesotans sill waiting on their license can still get their temporary license extended at license stations.

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