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Tulsans frustrated over backlog of online driver's license renewal service

Posted at 10:35 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 10:42:30-04

TULSA, Okla. — Getting your driver’s license has become a headache for many Oklahomans, including Sally Stull.

Stull hasn't driven in a while as she waits to get her Oklahoma driver's license renewed after it expired in February.

“You have to rely on somebody else and their schedule to be able to take you here and there," Stull said. "Running the kids to school would be super easy, but now it’s left on my husband’s shoulders to do," she said.

Stull tried getting an in-person appointment at the DMV, but it would be two months before one was available. So, she tried renewing online. She submitted her application on March 24 and is still waiting for her license.

“(I) have called several times, emailed a couple times," Stull said. "The longest time I waited was two hours.”

After struggling to get her license online, Stull tried renewing through a tag agency. They said she'd have to pay the $40 fee again. She then tried contacting the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to cancel her online renewal and get her money back, but still could not get a hold of anyone.

“Just kind of seems like they didn’t have a system in place that was ready to go," Stull said. "Or the workforce to really deal with this.”

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety launched the online renewal service at the height of the pandemic so drivers could renew from home.

“We were not anticipating quite the demand and the volume of online renewals that we would get," said Sarah Stewart with OKDPS.

DMVs are already overwhelmed with a backlog of in-person appointments that are being scheduled 60-days out. Now, Stewart said there’s also a 60-day wait time for online renewals.

“We have already hired numerous part-time people," Stewart said. "We’re still trying to hire more part-time people to chip away at this backlog and get these taken care of.”

When we asked Stewart about Stull’s license, she checked into it and said they should be getting to her any day now. She also said if someone does renew online, then ends up going in-person, OKDPS can cancel the online payment so they won’t pay twice.

Now, OKDPS is working to solve this backlog problem for the future. The state is allocating more money to the agency in next year’s budget. Stewart said they’re working to automate the renewal system.

“Right now, when we get an online renewal in, a DPS employee actually has to touch that renewal, work on that renewal," Stewart said. "So we’re working on getting this completely automated so an employee doesn’t have to ever actually touch that.”

OKDPS recommends checking to see when your license expires and not waiting until the last minute to renew. You can renew up to a year in advance. If you renew online, it will not be Real ID compliant.

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