Part-time driver’s license testing sites closing

Mississippi State NewsBy Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Satellite offices where people can go certain days of the month to renew or obtain a driver’s license will be closed until further notice, the Department of Public Safety announced Friday.

Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said the sites are being closed “out of necessity” as the agency works to modernize its driver’s license system.

“We bought the system used and that was 20 years ago,” Strain said Friday afternoon. The modernization process, which has been under way, will take three years and is slated to be complete by fall 2015. Strain would not speculate on how long it would be before the locations that are normally open part time would be reopened.

“Testing by the travel teams will resume as soon as possible,” the DPS news release said.

Meanwhile, 30 regular locations will be open across the state, including in Tupelo, New Albany, Corinth, Oxford and Starkville in Northeast Mississippi. The addresses for those locations and the other permanent locations can be found at www.dps.state.ms.us.

Nineteen part-time locations are closing across the state, including Booneville, Burnsville, Pontotoc, Amory and West Point in Northeast Mississippi.

“This is a necessary but temporary situation,” Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz said. “Once the upgrades are completed, there will be immediate improvements with enhanced system capabilities. The result will be shorter wait times, more efficient transactions and better availability of services.”

Strain said the current system is so antiquated that it risks crashing, putting the entire driver’s license operation in jeopardy.

Strain said the closure will mean legislation requiring the agency to have a part-time location in every county seat where a request is made by the board of supervisors will have to be put on hold.

That legislation was pushed by Northeast Mississippi legislators because there are no examiners in the counties of Chickasaw, Itawamba, Benton, Marshall, Itawamba and Calhoun. Now, with Friday’s announced closings, more counties will lack for driver’s license testing.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com