Budget Cuts Force Some Driver's License Bureaus To Close

The state's budget ax has now impacted drivers. Cuts have forced the Department of Public Safety to close 26 driver's satellite offices in Mississippi.

Residents in Poplarville, Wiggins, Lucedale and Bay St. Louis will now have to drive to larger cities to get their driver's license or to renew one.

Al Showers talked with some with some Hancock County residents who say the closures cost them more than time.

It's a 30 mile drive for Sheree Orgeron to get to the Bay St. Louis driver's license office. When she arrived, she found a closed sign on the door with instructions to head to another office. The next closest one is Gulfport.

"With gas prices the way they are right now, that kind of hurts. It's sad that we're a growing county and we don't have one for ourselves."

Linda Thomas got the same bad news when she brought her 84-year-old mother from Waveland to get an ID card.

"I think it's sad we're paying all the money we pay in property taxes and then they're going to close down a facility we need we really need."

Thomas says they spent an hour and a half waiting on hard benches before they finished their business.

"For the money they're getting on tickets they're giving people, they can update this facility. Since they're bringing everything here to Gulfport, the least they can do is make it comfortable."

Sgt. Joe Gazzo with the Mississippi Highway Patrol explains the reason for the change.

"What we've had to do is cut a number of our travel teams, which goes to a location for one or two days. Our budget was cut last year, it's going to be cut this year. It's not something we want to do."

The Highway Patrol says people can avoid long lines and long drives by going online. Mississippi has online license renewal in place, and you don't have to have computer at home. You can go to a local library.

But there are some limitations to the online process. For instance, if your address has changed you will still have to go to the nearest license center in person.

And you can only renew your license online every other time. If you renew your license online, you will not be able to renew online again until you have made a renewal in person.

Highway Patrol spokesman Joe Gazzo says the Department of Public Safety understands traveling farther is inconvenient. He says upgrading their online services also depends on the budget.

Click here for a complete list of license bureaus that are still open in South Mississippi.

by Al Showers