By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Starting Tuesday, people in the Lee County area can renew or replace their driver’s license on a touch-screen device much like an ATM.
Kiosks soon will be placed at seven locations statewide, including Tupelo, with the intent to have more than 100 of the machines in place by the end of 2010.
The hope is that the kiosks will help alleviate long lines at renewal centers.
On Thursday, the kiosks were unveiled at a news conference at a Jackson driver’s license renewal center.
Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson demonstrated the process for the media and for Gov. Haley Barbour. “Out the door in two minutes,” Simpson said.
A person pays at the kiosk with a credit card and receives a receipt that serves as a temporary license until the real license arrives in the mail in three to five days, Simpson said.
The seven kiosks will be located in traditional driver’s license renewal centers in what are considered high-growth areas.
The first two will be set up in Jackson; the first one outside the Jackson area will be in the Tupelo Furniture Market Building I, which is the current location of the driver’s license center.
But when the program is fully enacted, Simpson said, “I could see one in Barnes Crossing Mall in Tupelo.” He said kiosks can go anywhere that has an Internet connection and electricity.
Simpson said that when Barbour offered him the commissioner’s job, the governor asked him to make it a priority to shorten the long waits at driver’s license centers.
“All my life it has been a pain,” the Republican governor said.
Simpson said Mississippi will be the first state to use the automated technology for driver’s license renewals. Since the early 2000s, people have been able to renew online, but must go to the center for a new photo.
The kiosks are set up to take photos, so people can renew their licenses each time via the automated system.
Simpson said the technology is secure and protects personal information.
Using the system costs an additional $3, plus postage. The normal cost of a renewal is $21. The extra $3 per renewal is the fee charged by the private vendor L-1 Identity Solutions, based in Connecticut, to supply and maintain the system.
Simpson said it is not his goal to close “any bricks and mortar buildings” right now, but instead to make the process more efficient and user-friendly.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.