Staffing issues force driver's license agencies to face daily closures across the state

Posted at 6:30 PM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-08 20:04:16-04

CLAREMORE, Okla. -- Several driver's license agencies across the state are closing for the day with little notice to customers.

The Claremore office was closed Tuesday and several days during the previous week. The office has only two employees, so when one is on vacation or sick, the entire office has to shut down.

This is happening across the state. The Department of Public Safety specifically named the Bartlesville, west Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Muskogee, McAlester, Stillwater and Claremore offices. 

"That's a manpower issue and that's a budget issue," Trooper Dwight Durant with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said. "We are as fully staffed right now as we can be with the budget we have." 

At least 10 people showed up to the office Tuesday and pulled on the door trying to get in during the office's regularly scheduled business hours, only to find out it was locked. 

"If you have to schedule like I do taking vacation day or I'm off from work, then it gets to be a real pain because I'm missing a day of work," Jeff Richards said. 

Richards was trying to handle requirements for his Commercial Driver's License. He has been for days with no luck. He said if he cannot get them taken care of in 30 days, he loses his license and has to re-apply. 

Other people showed up trying to get their driver's license for the first time, while some just wanted to renew theirs.

"My [license] is expired and I have to get on a plane," Taunya McCurley said. "You can't do that when it's expired." 

The closures come with little notice, except a sign hanging on their door. 

People are being forced to go to other locations in the area, which makes the wait longer there. Some people are getting to the offices as early as 4 a.m. and camping out. 

"If you don't get to Broken Arrow or the Tulsa ones at the crack of dawn waiting for them to open, you can be there all day long waiting," Richards said. 

McCurley did not know if she had time to go to another office before her flight tomorrow and hearing the news that people waited for hours did not give her any confidence.

"Oh no. That is awful," McCurley said. "I don't even know what I'm going to do now. I don't even know if I can make it to an office by 5 p.m."

DPS said they cannot pull workers from other offices to staff the ones struggling, because they are all understaffed. 

As workers retire or quit, they cannot afford to replace them.

At one point, Trooper Durant said, DPS considered closing 20 of their 36 Driver's License Agencies across the state. That would keep an office open every 100 miles, which is the minimum number of offices required by state law. 

"This is not something that is a temporary manpower issue," Trooper Durant said. "It is the way things are going to be moving forward." 

DPS said people needing service will just have to get to the offices early and be prepared to wait.

They did suggest calling ahead before making the drive to make sure the office is open. 

Some customers told 2 Works For You there is no message saying they were closed, but no one answered the phone. 

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