By far, one of the most impactful achievements of the 86th Texas Legislature on House District 64 is the securing of $8 million for a new driver’s license office in the city of Denton. While the new facility cannot open soon enough, the signs that relief is coming are getting brighter every day.
First off, it’s important to note that the opening of a driver’s license office involves a few different state agencies. Rather than building new facilities for the Department of Public Safety to manage, the Texas Facilities Commission is seeking to lease an available space.
Once opened, this office will be the new hub for all driver’s license-related issues in the city of Denton. The main goal is to address wait times by increasing the number of service counters and employees. That includes:
12 service counters (up from 7)
26.5 full-time employees (up from 10.5)
Servicing only Class C skills testing
In July, the Facilities Commission released its RFP (Request For Proposal), issuing a tentative green light for the Denton driver’s license office project. The RFP, which is available to the public on the Comptroller’s website, was closed on Tuesday. Those proposals are now in review, and a lease will be awarded on Oct. 17.
For now, here’s a few highlights from the RFP:
The space should have approximately 9,601 square-feet of office space and another 195 square-feet of outdoor employee space within the city of Denton.
Parking spaces for visitors and a secured parking area for Texas Department of Public Safety employees.
Testing areas for Class C vehicles.
A vehicle canopy for examiners to conduct inspections.
The lease start date is slated for Dec. 1, 2020.
In total, the process to open a new driver’s license office takes about 18 months, a majority of which allows for construction, remodeling and ensuring the building and location meet the proposal specifications.
Real ID Act, aka the Little Gold Star
My Constituent Services staff in Austin and Denton have told me that there has been an increase in calls related to problems with needing a birth certificate or Social Security card to renew their license. This is largely a result of the Real ID Act, which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005.
It was then strengthened in October 2016, when DPS started issuing new licenses with a “Gold Star” in the upper right-hand corner. This star signifies a federally compliant Real ID.
Note: You can still drive, bank and vote in Texas even if your license doesn’t have a Gold Star. However, if you wish to fly or conduct transactions at the federal level, you will need to renew your license to get the updated Real ID. For many, this will require bringing in a copy of your birth certificate and/or Social Security card to verify your identification.
This is why many folks have not been able to utilize the convenient online renewal service. Once complete, license holders may return to using the online renewal system.