Small towns facing bigger problems than long lines at driver's l - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Small towns facing bigger problems than long lines at driver's license office

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When was the last time you renewed your driver's license? If it was about three or four years ago, you might be surprised on your next visit to the DMV.

Getting your driver's license is not as easy as it used to be. In small towns across the state, people are finding long lines or reduced hours. KSFY visited the McCook county courthouse in Salem Thursday. County Treasurer Carol Lauer says their licensing branch closed three years ago.

"Right now, those that have expired licenses now, coming up, think they can come in and get it here and we have to turn them away." Said Lauer.

15 licensing branches closed in October, 2009. We spoke with South Dakota Driver Licensing Program Director Cindy Gerber about the cut backs.

"We continually look at where we have stations open and staff available but at this point, we don't have intentions of reopening any of those stations." Said Gerber.

If you're hoping to escape the long lines in Sioux Falls with a trip to another town, you should call first before just showing up.

"When they do, we either send them back to Sioux Falls or to Mitchell, they do have a location in Madison once a week." Said Lauer.

People who make the mistake of coming to Salem to renew aren't sent out the door empty handed. The treasurer has a flier with numbers for Sioux Falls and Mitchell offices and also the list of documents they need so they next time they try to get a license it's as quick and painless as possible.

Many drivers still don't realize the closures have taken place. One group in particular is the hardest hit.

"A lot of the older community only drives in the small area, they won't drive in the larger area, so a lot of them are just letting their driver's license lapse." Said Lauer.

Lauer says when the cuts first happened, they did everything they could to save the local licensing office. Lauer says it's just a sign of the times.

Cindy Gerber with the driver's licensing program did tell us it is working quickly to fill open positions and setting up self-service kiosks so they will be in a better position to serve customers with less wait time.

Another reason to call ahead is the many places have strange schedules.

Parker: The driver license station is open on the first Wednesday of each month, but a worker there tells KSFY people still spend 2-3 hours waiting in lines. The worker also says the lines are longer because people from Sioux Falls actually travel to Parker for their driver licenses.   

Canton: People from Canton lost their driver license station almost three years ago. Now, many have to travel to Sioux Falls for a license or renewal.

Madison: Every Tuesday employees from the driver license station in Huron travel to Madison and set up so people in Madison can obtain a license.  

Salem: Lost its station several years ago but still receives calls and questions. Employees in Salem tell us people are directed to go to Sioux Falls or Mitchell for a driver's license.

Huron: This station is open every Thursday and Friday -- but still it's a limited option.

KSFY also found many of these county courthouses are open, and in most counties you can still purchase your license plates but not your driver's license.


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