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Online license renewals available

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency unveiled new initiatives, including online driver’s license renewals, which is intended to reduce wait times for residents and help it do more with a shrinking budget.

“The old system was broken. It was archaic. Unfortunately, citizens were spending 6-8 hours in line,” Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier said during a Thursday afternoon press conference, at the ALEA driver’s license reinstatement office in Montgomery.

“Secondly, it is ultimately going to be a cost saver,” he said. “This should reduce the amount of examiners that we need. In saying that, we can’t go any lower than we already are as far as personnel.”

Collier said system improvements were quietly rolled out about four months ago, so authorities could ensure the technology was working properly.

So far, more than 10,000 residents have renewed their licenses online at alrenewal.com or at one of 10 kiosks at driver’s license offices across the state.

Alabama residents can also schedule an appointment for services at one of ALEA’s driver’s license examining offices online to help ensure they don’t have to wait in line long.

Smart phone users can download a digital license to show as a secure form of identification. The license, only available through an online renewal, can be downloaded using Apple Passbook or Google Wallet.

ALEA spokeswoman Anna Morris said the digital license will be a valid form of ID if pulled over by police.

Statewide, ALEA has updated computer stations, testing stations and other equipment at its offices and probate offices over the last several months.

“In terms of the cost of the upgrades, the cost is minimal,” Collier said. “A lot of it isn’t going to be cost heavy. A lot of it is simply partnering with some IT (companies) and utilizing today’s technology.”

Anyone renewing their driver license online must have a printer available to print out a temporary license. A permanent license will be mailed out within 30 days.

Also, anyone renewing online will be required to pay a service fee of $2.75, in addition to the $36.25 driver license fee.

Other online services available include boat registration renewal, ordering of crash reports and employment background checks for companies.

Renewal kiosks are available in driver’s license offices in Mobile, Dothan, Montgomery, Opelika, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Decatur and Huntsville.

Collier said he is hoping for the best in terms of the state Legislature’s special session and 2016 budget talks. He said he is talking to lawmakers.

In the state budget passed by the Legislature, ALEA’s $55 million budget was slashed to $38 million. Governor Robert Bentley quickly vetoed the budget.

“We cannot run this agency with $38 million — not possible,” Collier said.

In previous interviews, he said the slashed budget would cost the state to lose 100 troopers.

Due to budget constraints coupled with new improvements, some driver’s license field offices that are only open one to two days a week will close, Collier said today.

Offices subject to closure have yet to be identified.

He said the examiners who operate those field offices are pulled from other offices, which contributes to longer lines. Also due to examiners’ extra travel, some of those satellite offices are only open five hours a day.

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