Efforts are underway to shorten the wait times at privately-run license offices in Missouri, which contract with the state to issue both driver’s licenses and license plates.

Rod Jetton, former Missouri House Speaker, is now Deputy Director of the Department of Revenue’s motor vehicles and drivers’ license division. He told Missourinet the state will launch a new compliance program in October to make sure license offices keep wait times down to 15 or 30 minutes max, depending on their contract with the state.

“We’re going to start having our field coordinators get out there and do audits and check to see what is the wait time in (various offices),” Jetton said. “Are they meeting their 15- or their 30-minute wait time? Usually where you see these long lines it’s at an office that’s maybe understaffed. They’re supposed to have eight or nine stations working, moving people through quicker, and sometimes they’ll only have two or three.”

Jetton said, though, they won’t take a heavy-handed approach.

“We’ll give (them) some chances — I like to call it a a three-strike program,” he said. “(They will) get some opportunities and warnings before (they) get in real trouble. But I just think we’ve got to hold folks feet to the fire. They’ve got to get out there and hire the employees. They need to work those stations to reduce those wait times.”

Jetton said there’s also a long-term solution coming, the replacement of the current operating system used by license offices.

“We’re using these old systems from the 70’s which is very difficult for employees to learn — it’s very time consuming, it’s not as efficient,” he said. “Right now, that is being upgraded. It’s going to take about two years to get all the programs, and everything finished up, two and a half for the full implementation — we’ll do drivers first — and then the license plates and tabs.”

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