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Driver’s License Megacenters to Alleviate REAL ID Backlog

Oklahoma lawmakers have approved $6.6 million to establish two temporary centers, one in Oklahoma City and the other in Tulsa, to help process REAL ID requests through the end of the year.

(TNS) — Oklahoma will stand up two driver's license megacenters this summer to address the backlog of residents trying to renew their licenses and obtain REAL IDs.

State lawmakers appropriated $6.6 million for the temporary centers that will be located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Although the sites are still being finalized, the megacenters will have at least 20 stations to process REAL ID requests and will operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, likely until the end of the year.

The megacenters will be staffed by temporary employees and modeled off the giant COVID-19 vaccine clinics the State Department of Health and local departments operated throughout the state, said Sen. Chuck Hall, R- Perry.

"We are in a situation where, due to the COVID crisis, due to our inability to provide enough systems, enough software, enough computers to be able to handle the demand of REAL ID," he said. "We are aware of the problem. We know that it needs to be addressed."

In many cases, Oklahomans are having to wait months to renew their driver's licenses or make an appointment to get a REAL ID-compliant license.

The backlog is largely attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic that temporarily shuttered Department of Public Safety locations and delayed training and implementation of new software that is compliant with issuing REAL IDs.

The mega-centers will be able to issue REAL ID-compliant licenses, non-compliant licenses and commercial driver's licenses.

Rep. Dell Kerbs, R- Shawnee, said he's hopeful the megacenters will help alleviate wait times in rural parts of the state.

"That's going to allow our rural tag agencies to service their folks because many of our tag agencies out there are getting folks that are coming from the metro areas," Kerbs said. "In some cases, Oklahomans are driving two hours to get their REAL ID or get scheduled with a tag agency."

State lawmakers on Wednesday also discussed additional steps to reduce the backlog at Department of Public Safety locations and tag agencies.

Tag agencies will get additional software to be able to process more REAL IDs.

Through the state budget process, lawmakers also increased funding to the Department of Public Safety after the agency's budget was cut last year. The restored funding will allow the agency to hire more driver's license examiners, Hall said.

Lawmakers also passed this session and Gov. Kevin Stitt signed earlier this week Senate Bill 1057 that will allow Oklahomans to get driver's licenses that are valid for eight years instead of just four years. The extended licenses will be voluntary.

The megacenter planning is still ongoing, but Hall said he anticipates the facilities will be user friendly and laid out in a manner so workers can quickly assess a person's needs upon arrival.

He encouraged Oklahomans to review the documents needed to obtain a REAL ID prior to arrival so they don't have to make multiple trips.

"There's nothing more frustrating than waiting in a long line and getting to the end and finding out that you don't have the right documentation," Hall said.

The mega-centers are expected to open by mid-summer.

Last month, the federal government announced it would once again delay full enforcement of REAL ID, this time until May 3, 2023.

For more information about how to obtain a REAL ID in Oklahoma, visit

(c)2021 The Oklahoman. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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