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Getting a Driver's License Will Soon Take Longer

Due to a new law, the days of over-the-counter driver's license are numbered. Folks will soon get a temporary driving permit, good for 20 days. Licenses will only be mailed out to people with permanent addresses.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Later this year, the way you get your driver's license will change. Whether you are renewing or getting a new license, it will take more than a simple trip down to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get it.

There are about 115 DMV offices across the state that make drivers licenses on-site. Because of a new law that takes effect July 1, the days of over-the-counter driver's license are numbered.

“You will walk out of our office with a temporary driving permit, good for 20 days,” said Wayne Hurder, of the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

“It sounds like it would be more of an inconvenience to wait 20 days for your license with your picture ID,” driver Brittany Adams said.

DMV officials said the extra wait time allows for more sophisticated background checks. If you pass all DMV tests, a license will be mailed to your permanent address within 20 days. 

A post office box will not be accepted as a permanent address. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) leaders see that as a problem for folks without permanent addresses.

“So if they're not going to mail it to a post office box, then these people will not receive a license or identification card and it could impede their ability to vote,” said Sarah Preston, legislative coordinator for the ACLU.

Licenses will no longer be made on-site at each DMV office. Instead, they will be made at a single Raleigh location, based on state legislation passed two years ago.

“We think this will make a major difference in stopping identity theft, fraud,” Hurder said.

Hurder acknowledged it may be hard to get a smile out of DMV customers about the changes, but security trumps convenience.

“The best customer service is knowing that your identity is protected,” he said.

Hurder estimated that about 90 percent of applicants will likely get their new driver's license mailed to them in five days. For those people who require extra verification, it will take longer.

The DMV is also asking people to plan ahead. You can renew your license up to six months before it expires.


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