BY CHRIS EDWARDS
AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that the Texas Department of Public Safety will begin reopening driver license offices in phases.
The reopened DL offices will feature limited services, and will occur in a series of four phases, which started on Tuesday. The first three phases roll out the reopenings based on the office locations. The third phase, which sees the offices in DPS’ north and southeast regions, will take place on Wednesday, June 3.
As part of the process, Texas residents can take advantage of a driver’s license appointment system, which allows customers to schedule appointments up to six months in advance.
Tyler County residents who need any DL services can begin scheduling appointments at 1 p.m. on Friday, through visiting the DPS website, located at www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/ .
The new appointment method has been in the works by DPS for several months, according to a press release from the agency. The move to appointment only status for customers is part of DPS’s efforts toward reducing the time Texans spend waiting in line at DL offices, according to the news release.
Customers will be able to make appointments online and once at the office, they will check-in with their smart device, or by using a kiosk inside the office, according to DPS. “Due to social distancing requirements…we are asking that customers wait in their car after checking in. Customers will receive a text message when it’s time to come inside,” the news release states.
The final phase of the reopening process is expected to begin mid-summer, which will allow for customers to schedule an appointment for all DL office transactions anywhere in the state. This will be announced at a later date by DPS.
All customers will be subject to safety measures that DPS is undertaking to limit the spread of the coronavirus. These measures include:
• Staff members and customers taking driving tests will be required to wear face masks or facial coverings.
• Every person (staff and customers) will be screened for symptoms prior to coming into a DL office, which includes temperature screening.
• Customers may be asked to reschedule an appointment if they do not pass the safety screening.
• Only actual customers will be allowed inside DL offices.
• DPS staff will sanitize workstations and equipment between customer transactions.
• Eye examinations will no longer require physical contact with an eye-testing machine.
• Customers must pay with a credit card, check or money order.
The DPS has extended the expiration of driver’s licenses, as well as CDL/ID and Election Identification Certificate cards, which expired on or after March 13 of this year. Those identifying instruments fall under the period that encompasses the disaster declaration issued by Abbott, and will remain valid for 60 days after which time DPS issues a public notice to lift the extension period, according to DPS.