Here’s how Texas lawmakers hope to cut down on long lines for driver’s licenses

Texans won’t see any immediate relief.

But state lawmakers on Friday took another step toward potentially shortening long lines found across the state when Texans seek to get or renew their driver’s licenses.

The Texas House unanimously approved a bill that would study the shifting driver’s license duties from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Department of Motor Vehicles, a move some believe will speed up the process of issuing driver’s licenses.

At the same time, the bill will extend the term of a driver’s license from six years to eight.

The bill, which heads back to the Senate for final approval, touches on a slew of other issues, including abolishing the Texas Private Security Board, calling for reports on border crime and shifting motorcycle safety training programs to a different state agency.

Regarding driver’s licenses, the bill calls for a study due by September 2020 about whether the program should move to the DMV.

That would give lawmakers time, according to the bill, to craft a plan to actually shift the program during the 2021 legislative session.

And if the study isn’t finished on time, the program automatically moves to the DMV in 2021.

Supporters say transferring the program to the DMV would let the DPS focus on other functions and could make the entire program more efficient. Critics worry that moving too fast could create long-term problems and swamp the DMV.

In Texas, home to more than 28 million residents, 20.3 million have a driver’s license and 3.2 million have a state-issued ID card.

Texans have long complained about the length of time it takes to wait in line to get a new driver’s license or a renewal.

State data shows that it could take more than 2 1/2 hours to get a license for the first time at the Fort Worth Mega Center and nearly 1 1/2 hours at the Fort Worth South location.

Texas lawmakers have until May 27 to pass laws.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.