Since rolling out seven automated driver’s license renewal kiosks three months ago, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety has begun developing plans to add more throughout the state.
“It seems to me that 100 would not be an unreasonable number,” said Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson.
Potential new sites include the Department of Motor Vehicles’ remaining 24 licensing sites, as well as student centers on college and university campuses, police and sheriff’s departments, courthouses and libraries.
“Each of the (DMV) sites would have at least one, though the ones in heavily populated areas could have two or more,” Simpson said.
The number of drivers using the machines has increased each month since the kiosks have been available.
In December, the number of transactions completed at the stations accounted for nearly 15 percent off all renewals at the seven sites. By February, that rate increased to almost 17 percent, and so far this month usage has risen to 21 percent.
MDPS officials say the computerized station in Jackson, installed Dec. 7, has helped reduce the wait drivers commonly experienced. Besides Jackson, there are kiosks in D’Iberville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Olive Branch and Tupelo.
Renewing a license at the machines takes less than five minutes and is similar to using an ATM or a self-check-in station at an airport. Drivers swipe their expired licenses to start the renewal process.
Inside the licensing center in Jackson on Tuesday, Audrey Scott touched the machine’s screen as she followed its prompts and then stood back.
A camera lens mounted at the top snapped two photos, and a minute later, she had a receipt and a temporary driver’s license.
“It wasn’t bad,” Scott, of Crystal Springs, said of the process.
“It costs a little more for the convenience, but it lets you take as many pictures as you want,” Scott said.
Scott paid $26.50, which included overdue fees because she was late renewing – just $3 more than if she had waited in line to renew with an employee.
Adding the kiosks didn’t cost the state. Boston-based L-1 Identity Services, which owns and operates the machines, collects the $3 fee from each transaction.
While the automated renewal stations still are being tested, Simpson says his department and L-1 Identity Services are working on tweaking the software to fix some glitches.
When MDPS introduced the kiosks, the machines didn’t recognize the Social Security numbers some drivers still had on their licenses instead of an official driver’s license number and rejected them.
The company also is adding a feature that will allow drivers to update their addresses automatically rather than having to wait in line and fill out paperwork.
“We’ve learned a lot from the pilot program,” said John Hilliard, senior director of business development for L-1 Identity Services.
His company is exploring other services that can be added to the kiosks besides license renewal, such as allowing drivers to pay DMV fines for suspended licenses and register to vote.
Though Simpson said the response to the kiosks has been favorable, he wants the machines to be more visible.
“We feel that will increase their usage,” Simpson said. “When we get the program fully implemented, our policy will be to make these the first option. People will be required to use the kiosks unless, for some reason, they can’t. That will take a huge burden off the examiners.”
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