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Posted: July 5, 2012 9:13 p.m.

Getting a driver's license more complex

Dozens of people filed into the Department of Driver Services in Covington on Thursday hoping to receive, renew or replace their driver's license.

They just didn't think it would be such a hassle.

Effective July 1, Georgia requires those looking to get a new license or renew an expired one to show more documents proving identification and residency.

Many, including Vickie Weir, stepped into the driver services building with some hesitations about the new requirements.

"I just hate that it came into affect when it did," Weir said. "I was robbed late last week and had my license taken. When the police returned my license, they suggested that I come here and get them changed. It's not even time for me to renew my license, but I would rather be safe than sorry."

The new Georgia law states those seeking a license must now show an original birth certificate or passport, Social Security card, two proofs of residency and documents supporting any legal name change.

It's Georgia's attempt to stay compliant with the Federal Real ID Act of 2005, which aimed to strengthen identification standards in a post-9/11 era.

When Weir first arrived at the DDS last Wednesday, she said felt prepared since she heard about the new law previously, however, afterwards was a different story.

"They told me I still didn't have enough paperwork," she said. "Now I have to bring them my marriage license proving my name change from when I got married. This is crazy. No one told me the first time I came that I would need my marriage license."

She showed The News the paper the DDS printed out for her showing what she needed to bring back her second visit.

"See?" Weir said. "They didn't circle anything showing I needed to prove my last name change from when I got married. I showed them my license that was stolen, and they said it wasn't enough."

When Weir was leaving, she said she hoped the third try at the DDS was the last time she would have to deal with this matter.

"We've tried to get the word out, but you're always going to have the group that doesn't hear about it," said Susan Sports, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

She said those who come in without proper documentation will not be "turned away," but issued a 120-day temporary permit until they bring the correct documents in.

"We made the business decision to not turn anyone away," she said. "If they didn't have the documents, they would not be able to drive."

But on Thursday, Jill Hicks and her daughter Morgan Fitzgerald sat at the DDS for nearly two hours waiting for Morgan to take her driving test to hopefully receive her first license.

"We have brought everything we will hopefully need, but are still having to wait since this all has caused the DDS to get behind," Hicks said. "It's been very troublesome, but if it helps make it harder for teens to get their license so they don't get in serious or deadly accidents makes it worth it."

Morgan did not quite agree.

"It just makes us have to have more paperwork and more hassles to get a license," she said. "It's hard enough as it is."

Jake Shelton, who was also there, had been waiting for 15 minutes to take his driving test and after seeing how long others were waiting was hoping he would not be another person having to wait hours to take his test.

"I still feel like this law makes sense though," Shelton said. "It's been too easy for felons or terrorists to make fake IDs that have led to catastrophe. Hopefully this new law will put a stop to it."

Recovering from the holiday and coupled with the examiners learning a new system is part of the many reasons why people have experienced slow lines.

"Our examiners are learning a new process," said Sports. "Whenever you learn a new process, their transaction time is slower."

She said many transactions can still be done online, but those who are looking to renew need to come in with the documents before they can begin to renew online.

The new law, some DDS patrons said, has not helped an already slow process.

Raymond Clark had previously waited for four hours at the DDS before learning he did not have all the paper work that he needed to re-instate his license.

"Now I've been waiting for another two hours," Clark said. "This law has caused a lot of people problems."

Carolyn Seagrave felt the same way.

"It's a lot of things to have," she said. "I just learned about this today from the DDS and having (The News) explain it to me. It's especially a lot for older people like me to deal with."

Sports encourages residents to visit the DDS website, dds.ga.gov, before going to a local location.

She also said if there is any way to wait until next week, that may be a better plan.

"If there is any way to plan ahead and come next week, then the wait time will be lower statewide," said Sports.

Joy Bratcher contributed to this report.

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