Drivers Flock to Chatom After State Reopens Driver’s License Offices

A month after the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency closed 31 rural driver’s license offices due to budget cuts, they announced they’re reopening most of them on a limited basis.

The announcement came late last week after the state received national backlash over their plan to close them permanently, forcing rural residents to drive several miles to find the closest open office.

The Washington County office in Chatom was the first location in the News 5 viewing area to reopen Tuesday morning.

Still1103_00000By noon, more than 20 customers had signed up for service. Washington County Sheriff Richard Stringer said the number is usually much higher at that time in the day, but residents were aware of the new hours.

“When we were open once a week, they were lined up out the back door. I think this is a very bad move by whoever is responsible for it, whether it was Spencer Collier with ALEA or Governor Bentley,” Stringer said. “I just hope they consider giving us at least one day a week and that’s still not enough.”

The drivers who were in line Tuesday said if the Chatom office wasn’t open, they might not have been able to receive the services they needed, due to such a long commute to either Mobile or Grove Hill.
“It’s hard for parents to transport their kids so far whenever they have to work. You have a lot of working parents right here in Chatom. They can take off 30 minutes to come here rather than a whole day’s work to take them to Mobile or Grove hill,” Washington County Resident Jessica Smith said.

“Then, you have to take off a whole day of work because you don’t have your license, and they want to give you a ticket. When you can’t get it in the time that they want you to get it, then a lot of times they make you wait….They really should keep this office open once a week.”

The Bay Minette office in Baldwin County was on the list of closures. They’re open on the first Wednesday of each month, starting tomorrow.

A schedule of when the offices are open can be found at http://www.alrenewal.com.

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