News 5 is dedicated to uncovering the dysfunction at the DMV after many of you complained about long wait times and bad service.
On Wednesday, we reported having a difficult time receiving information from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the department that oversees driver’s license branches around the state.
The next day, they called us first thing in the morning to promptly set up a phone interview with Spencer Collier, Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement. They said they were busy on Wednesday and couldn’t meet our deadline.
Collier said I shouldn’t be asking him the tough questions, but should be directing them to legislators. “It’s really an easy solution. Stop voting to decrease our budget and then we’ll be happy to make these things happen.”
Collier said voting records show Representatives Wilcox and Faust have voted in favor of bills that cut funding for ALEA. ( HB235 on 2/26/14 and HB 135 6/4/15)
We’ve heard several times before that severe budget shortfalls are the reasons why ALEA can’t hire additional employees or build extra offices, but it’s not an excuse for the complaints many of you have about the service.
On Facebook, several of you say that part of the headache isn’t the number of employees, but how those workers treat customers when they walk in door.
One viewer posted: “Hiring more employees? How about limiting breaks or making the ones working; WORK! It’s ridiculous and ticks people off when watching them sit around talking half the time and then act like you are the problem when it’s finally your turn!”
Collier said it’s something he wants to address. He said that in response to our story, he’s going to personally visit the Demetropolis branch next week.
“That’s unacceptable and that’s one thing that should be changing since I’ve become secretary. It costs nothing to have a good attitude and a pleasant disposition,” Collier said.
Since ALEA took over the driver’s license division earlier this year, they increased the fee for an ID by 12 dollars. Collier says it was only enough money to help them break even because they were losing money for each card they issued, and their funding is at an all time low.
They also started offering online renewals and appointment scheduling to cut down on lines at main branches like Mobile.
In Fairhope, however, you still have to show up and sign in for an appointment if you’re applying for a new license. If the list if full, you’re turned away.
“I think we can resolve that with more man power,” Collier said about possibly adding an online reservation system. “I’ll even go one step further. If you want to reach out to representative Faust or the county commissioners. I’ll even commit to building a driver’s license office in Baldwin County. If they’ll sponsor the bond issue to build it and provide the funding for us to put examiners there.”
Like all disputes, one group blames the other. In this case, the legislators and ALEA are both pointing fingers.