Governor Stitt signs executive order to speed up driver’s license renewal

According to a press release issued from the Governor’s Office on February 10, “Governor Stitt signed Executive Order 2021-05, which waives restrictions on tag agents to make it easier for driver licenses to be renewed, allow Oklahomans to obtain identification if a REAL ID is not available, allow Oklahomans to obtain a downgraded license and allow third parties to administer driver’s license examinations.”

“The COVID pandemic has negatively affected so many of our normal processes, including renewing driver licenses and identification. No Oklahoman should have to wait months to obtain an ID or take a day off work to renew their license. I’m proud to sign this executive order today to help Oklahomans and eliminate the long wait times,” Stitt said.

Stitt’s executive order makes four fundamental changes:

The order allows tag agents to renew, replace, or downgrade Class A, B, or C commercial driver licenses. Prior to the EO, only the Department of Public safety could process these tasks.

Tag agents will be allowed to issue state identification cards to individuals who no longer drive but who need a state ID and possess a valid, expired, or suspended driver license;

It allows career technology centers to administer the state’s written driving exam.

It allows commercial driving academies to administer CDL driving examinations to the general public.

DPS Commissioner John Scully told the press that DPS officials understand the public’s frustration and that the department was working around the clock to alleviate the problem.

“In those efforts, DPS recently identified steps that can be taken by the governor and the Legislature that will improve delivery of driver license services. DPS is thankful for the eager willingness of Governor Stitt and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to act on the Department’s recommendations. Now that Governor Stitt has issued the executive order, DPS will implement the planned changes quickly.”

Capt. Sheridan O’Neal, legislative liaison for DPS, stated that the executive order will help to eliminate the backlog in processing driver license and identification cards that built up over the past 12 months due to the implementation of federally mandated REAL IDs, the pandemic, and state budget cuts which led to DPS to suspending these services for nearly a month.

“We are excited that the Legislature is aware of this and they’re working with us. We’re working with the governor’s office. We think the executive order is going to relieve some of the pressure, and once we follow it up with some of the legislation we are following, we think it’s going to make a difference.”

This is welcome news for many Oklahomans. Residents in Sapulpa have had to make an appointment for driver’s license renewals a month in advance. In some areas of the state, people have waited more than two months to take a driving test.

O’Neal said DPS is also looking at other in-house options to address the driver’s license delays.

“We’re hoping to extend our hours in the evening and possibly do some Saturdays as well. We’re looking at any type of savings we can identify, whether that’s payroll savings or revolving funds or wherever we can pull it from to make services better than it is currently.”

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Charles Betzler

Charles Betzler

Charles Betzler is a contributing writer for Sapulpa Times.