Gov. Greg Abbott issues directive to speed up long lines at DPS offices

Governor Greg Abbott wants the Department of Public Safety to move quickly to cut down wait times at driver license centers.

Earlier this year, lawmakers approved money to hire more DPS employees.

Long waits at driver license centers across North Texas reached a boiling point this summer. The state says it’s become a “serious life-safety concern.” People are being turned away hours before closing time due to overcrowding.

Earlier this month, SKY 4 captured lines stretching outside at the DPS office in McKinney. At the time, it was 98 degrees outside with a heat index of 106.

“I’ve been here almost six hours now and ain’t getting nothing done,” said Devonte Hall, who waited in line on Tuesday. “They don’t have enough people.”

“Quite frustrating,” said Cara Nieuwenhuizen, who was also waiting. “I feel like I’m going to cry.”

On Monday, Gov. Abbott tweeted a video in which he tells Texans that he’s heard them loud and clear.

“I signed this directive to the head of the Department of Public Safety to take immediate action to shorten lines at driver license offices because your time is too precious,” he said in the video.

Earlier this summer, lawmakers approved more than $200 million so DPS can hire more than 760 new employees and fund two new license centers. DPS gets that funding on Sunday. The governor made it clear he wants to see shorter wait times as soon as possible.

DPS says it’s been pre-hiring people this summer to start training next week. Training takes two months. The goal is to have the offices with the most severe wait times — at least a dozen in North Texas — staffed with new employees by the end of this year.

DPS says more than half of the people who physically go to an officer can do their business online, through the mail or over the phone instead. That would also help alleviate the wait.