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License and Permit Specialist Responsibilities and Frequently Asked Questions About the Driver License Division

License and Permit Specialist Responsibilities

License and Permit Specialists (specialists), formerly known as Customer Service Representatives, are on the front lines in keeping Texas secure and providing excellent customer service to over 20 million Texas residents. Specialists have the responsibility of serving the general public for the issuance of various types of driver licenses and identification cards. Specialists are entrusted with sensitive, protected, and confidential information and have a common goal to provide our customers with a faster, easier and friendlier driver license experience and a safer Texas. The information provided here will help explain the tasks a specialist performs, and how driver services has changed over the past decade.

Note: Links to additional information will be bolded in dark blue. Simply place your mouse over the link and click to access the information you are looking for.

   Why does a Driver License transaction take so long?

From 1935 to the 1990s, a Driver License was a tool to indicate the license holder had the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

However, throughout the years it has shifted from certification that a license holder has the ability to drive a motor vehicle to being an identity document.

This change in duties has expanded the role of the License and Permit Specialist and the length of the time of the transaction itself. Descriptions of the various modifications to the Driver License transaction process since 1991 are below.

   Added Requirements to the Issuance Process

1991:

  • The Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) check1 for non-commercial driver license eligibility begins. Specialists review an applicant's driver history from other states to prevent driver license (DL) issuance to persons with outstanding violations and enforcement actions. Specialists must reject applications from customers with violations from other states causing them to be ineligible to receive a license. PDPS is a US Department of Transportation (DOT) repository that allows state driver licensing authorities to search the National Driver Register (NDR) data. NDR holds problem driver information from all US jurisdictions and points the inquiring entity to the State of Record (SOR) to assist in determining whether or not to issue a new or renewed driver license. PDPS check is required by the NDR Act of 1982 -23 CFR Part 1327.

1992:

  • Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) is implemented. Texas began issuing commercial driver licenses (CDL) in 1990. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) mandated all states to implement the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS)2 for all CDL applicants. CDLIS was developed to provide information on outstanding violations and enforcement actions to other states to prevent CDL issuance to ineligible drivers. 49 CFR Part 384.

1993:

  • National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) begins. The NVRA requires specialists to provide customers the opportunity to submit voter registration applications at the time of their Driver License transaction. Specialists must explain that voter registration is available through the DL offices and assist customers with questions about completion of the voter registration applications. This program also required DL office personnel to establish relationships with local voter registrars for secure delivery, by DPS personnel, of voter registration applications for processing. The manual process for registration applications continued until the Driver License System (DLS) was implemented 2010. National Voter Registration Act of 1993, Texas Election Code Chapter 20.

1995:

  • Organ donor collection begins. Specialists must ask customers specific questions about providing anatomical gift donations for eyes, tissue, or organs. Specialists provide information to customers so they can make informed decisions regarding donations. Texas Transportation Code (TRC) §521.401.

1997:

  • Social security number (SSN) collection begins. SSNs are collected for original, renewal, and duplicate DLs transactions. Specialists must explain the document requirements, and are trained to assist in recognition of valid and fraudulent social security cards. Customers without proof of a SSN are required to leave the transaction and return at another time with proper documentation. TRC §521.142(g).
  • Parent taught driver education (PTDE) begins.  PTDE allows parents to provide driver education to their children. PTDE requires the parent to submit classroom and driving logs to the DL office. Specialists must inspect the logs for accuracy and completeness. Applicants must complete all parts of the transaction at the same location and offices must maintain all related documents until the permit phase of licensure is completed. Education Code §1001.112

2000:

  • Rule changes increase standard of requirements for necessary documents. Application requirements increased for identification, SSN, signature, proof of citizenship, and county of residence. Specialists must explain the new requirements and to detect fraud fraudulent documents. Customers without proper documentation are required to return to the office with additional documents to complete the transaction. 37 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 15.

2002:

  • Graduated driver license (GDL) program for persons under 18 begins. The GDL program mandates multiple visits to the DL office and additional document requirements for teen applicants. Specialists must explain the additional restrictions on teen drivers, and increased education and document requirements during the GDL phases. TRC Chapter 521, Subchapter H-Education and Examination Requirements.
  • Sex offender document expiration decreases to one year. Sex offender DL/IDs are now valid for only one year and all renewals for this population must be done in person increasing the number of customers visiting the DL office annually. TRC §521.103.
  • Donor Education Awareness Registry (DEAR) Donation program begins. Customers may donate $1 for the anatomical gift education program. Specialists must explain the voluntary donation to applicants and record the donation. TRC §521.008.
  • Requirements for proof of citizenship status expands. Requirements increase for proof of citizenship during the issuance of a DL/ID. Specialists are trained to recognize legitimate and fraudulent documents. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.142, TRC §521.1425.
  • Registration with Selective Service System (SSS) begins. Specialists must discuss registration requirements and options for alternative service with all applicants to whom SSS registration is applicable, increasing transaction time. TRC §521.147.

2003:

  • Use of Social Security On-Line Verification (SSOLV)3 for SSN verification begins. SSOLV requires specialists to input the SSN provided by the customer into the federal system for verification. 37 TAC §15.42.

2004:

  • Communication impediment program begins. Customers may disclose health conditions that may impede communication with a peace officer and add that information to the DL/ID. Customers must submit a form completed by their physician. Customers can download the form online and fill it out prior to their transaction or can be provided with a form during the transaction. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.142(h).
  • The Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) begins. DRP causes an increase in ineligible licenses and corresponding inquiries from DL holders. Customer traffic in DL offices and Customer Service Center (CSC) call volume increases as license holders attempt to clear their license suspensions as a result of the surcharge program. TRC Chapter 708.

2005:

  • Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) added to CDL. Background checks for CDL applications are required for applicants who want to add a hazardous materials endorsement. Applicants who want to add a HME must complete an application at a Driver License Office, take and pass a written test and submit their fingerprints at an authorized location. The fingerprints are submitted to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The background check must be fully completed by the TSA and reported to DPS before the HME can be added. 49 CFR Part 383.121, 49 CFR Part 383.141.

2006:

  • Fee exemptions for Disabled veterans with 60% or more disability rating begins. Specialists explain the new program to applicants and verify acceptable documents. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.426.
  • Organ donor registry begins. A donor indicator on the DL/ID is added and organ donors must provide consent to be included in an internet registry. Specialists ask all applicants specific questions and explain the internet registry to ensure the applicant's wishes are properly executed. TRC Chapter 521, Subchapter Q.

2007:

  • Katie's law was implemented. All DL holders age 79 and older must renew in person and the term of license for persons 85 years of age and older decreases from six to two years. Specialists explain the program and the need for the in person renewal. TRC §521.2711.
  • Address confidentiality program begins. The address confidentiality program keeps the residential addresses of victims of family violence, sexual assault and abuse, stalking, or trafficking of persons, confidential. Specialists explain the program and ensure the interaction with the customer is thoughtful and confidential. Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 56, Subchapter C.
  • Non-resident and temporary non-resident CDLs issuance begins. Specialists must explain to customers the various types of CDL to determine which is appropriate for their specific circumstance. TRC §522.013, 49 CFR Part 383.23.

2008:

  • Texas begins using REAL ID standards. Specialists must collect documents from original applicants that adhere to REAL ID standards. Primary, secondary and supporting document lists are developed and customers are required to provide verifiable identification information. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. 6 CFR Part 37.

2009:

  • Driving skills exams for applicants under 18 must be conducted. All applicants now required to complete and pass a driving skills exam rather than allowing for skills exam waivers for students who submitted proof of driver education. The increased demand for skills exams increases the volume of customers needing service and decreases the number of transactions that can be conducted per specialists per day. TRC §521.165.
  • Alternative address option for judges and their spouses begins. This program allows judges/spouses to display the courthouse business address on their DL/IDs instead of the residential address. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.121(c).
  • Specialists training now includes customer service, cultural diversity, and proof of citizenship training. Specialists must complete the coursework within the first three months of employment and annually thereafter. Each course is between two and three hours in length which requires specialists to spend eight hours away from regular duties serving customers to complete the training requirements. Sections 5.19, 5.20, & 5.21 of Tex. H.B. 2730, 81st Leg., R.S. (2009).

2010:

  • Six-hour adult driver education course begins.  Applicants 18 through 24 years old are required to submit proof of course completion before scheduling a skills exam. Specialists must explain the new course requirement. Customers without proper documentation of completion of the course must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.1601.

2011:

  • Limited term DL/ID issuance begins. Limited term documents are now issued for the duration of the holder's lawful presence. Specialists are trained to recognize and understand the many types of documents that may be presented to determine lawful presence and the license expiration date. Specialists explain the need for proper documentation to foreign visitors and applicants with temporary status. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.101, TRC §521.142, TRC §521.1425, TRC §521.271.

2012:

  • Veteran designator added to DLs begins. Eligible veterans may add a veteran designator to their Driver License. Specialists are trained to recognize acceptable eligibility documents. Specialists explain the documentation needed with veterans interested in having the designator displayed on their license. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.102, TRC §521.1235.
  • New medical certification requirements for CDL holders begins. CDL holders must visit a DL office to submit a current medical examiner's certificate. Specialists must review and scan the certificate into the appropriate driver record. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §522.093, 49 CFR Part 383.73.
  • Proof of residency for applicants of original DL/IDs begins. Customers are required to submit two documents proving Texas residency. Specialists must review documents provided and scan the documents into the appropriate driver record. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.1426, TRC §522.0225.
  • Peace officer alternative address program begins. Peace officers may display an alternative to their home address on their DL/ID. Specialists review the eligibility documents, input the appropriate address and scan the documents into the driver record. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.1211.
  • A fee waiver for foster youth begins. Applicants must present eligibility documents from the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to obtain DL/IDs at no cost. Specialists review the DFPS eligibility documents and process the fee waiver in DLS. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.1811.
  • Systemic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) begins. The SAVE program is a service through the United State Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). Documents accepted to prove lawful presence contain a USCIS number that SAVE uses to verify the validity of the document and duration of stay. All proof of citizenship documents that contain a USCIS number must be verified through SAVE. Specialists must review the documents, input the information and receive SAVE responses before the transaction can be complete. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. 6 CFR Part 37.
  • SAVE second and third stage verification begins. When SAVE cannot verify the lawful presence document presented, second and third stages of verification are initiated to allow USCIS, through a manual process, additional time to review documents and determine if they meet the lawful presence requirement for DL/ID issuance. Second stage verification can take up to five business days. If the document does not verify in the second stage, the USCIS internal process automatically pushes it to third stage, which takes up to 20 additional days. The applicant's DL/ID is on hold throughout this period. Specialists must check status and remain in communication with the customer until the status is confirmed or denied by USCIS. Once confirmed, the customer must return to the DL office to complete the transaction and be issued a DL/ID. 6 CFR Part 37.

2013:

  • Election Identification Certificate (EIC) issuance begins. The EIC is a new type of card for qualified voters who do not have another form of identification. The EIC is provided at no cost to the customer and is only valid for voting. Specialists are trained on the new card type, eligibility requirements, and DLS procedures specific to EIC issuance. When elections are approaching, specialists work on Saturdays in certain offices to give as many customers as possible the chance to get an EIC. TRC §521A.001.

2014:

  • Veteran designators for ID Cards begins. Eligible veterans may add a veteran designator to their Identification Card. Specialists are trained to recognize acceptable eligibility documents. Specialists explain the documentation needed with veterans interested in having the designator displayed on their ID. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.102.
  • Voluntary donations for the Fund for Veteran's Assistance begins. Specialists must explain the program and review and process the donation. TRC §521.010.
  • Collection of emergency contact information begins. This voluntary program allows license holders to provide contact information for emergency notifications by peace officers. Specialists discuss the option to collect the information and input the appropriate information. TRC §521.060.

2015:

  • Downgrade of CDLs for licenses without current medical certificates begins. As CDLs are downgraded for lack of a current medical certificate, CDL holders visit the DL offices. Customers must submit a current medical certificate and the specialists will scan it into the driver record to restore the CDL license status. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §522.093, 49 CFR Part 383.73.
  • Applicants required to show proof of SSN for all DL/ID issuances. Specialists must explain the new requirements and assist with determination of acceptable proof of SSN documentation. Customers without proper documentation must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. TRC §521.142(g), 6 CFR Part 37.
  • Customers may no longer hold both a DL and ID. Specialists must explain to customers the options to determine which document they want to maintain and which they want to surrender. TRC §521.182, TRC §521.183, 6 CFR Part 37.
  • Impact Texas Teen Driver Program (ITTD) begins. Teen DL applicants (ages 16 and 17 years) must review educational videos and materials emphasizing the problem of reckless and distracted driving before a DL is issued. Specialists must explain the program and ensure the applicant has proof of completion documents and scans the documents into the driver record. Customers without proper documentation of completion of the program must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. 37 TAC §15.62.

2016:

  • An informational document about veterans' services must be distributed to persons applying for a DL/ID with a veteran designator. Specialists must distribute the document and discuss with applicants requesting a veteran designator. TRC §521.011.
  • REAL ID Act. REAL ID Act documentation requirements for renewal transactions are implemented. This process previously completed for original transactions is expanded to include renewal transactions. Many documents verify lawful presence, including birth certificates, naturalization documents, permanent resident documents and valid immigration visas. Specialists must review the documents provided and verify they meet requirements before a transaction can be completed. Even customers currently issued a driver license or ID card must meet the REAL ID Act's documentation requirements per 6 C.F.R. Part 37.

2017:

  • Expansion of donation program for Glenda Dawson Donate Life Fund (previously DEAR) begins. DEAR program is expanded to allow customers to donate $1 or more to the fund. Specialists must explain that the donation can be made in any amount. TRC §521.008.
  • CDL applicants added to the organ donor contribution program. CDL applicants may now participate in the organ donor program. Specialists must offer CDL applicants ability to participate in this program during CDL transactions. TRC §522.152.
  • CDL testing standards increase. New vehicle inspection elements and maneuvers are added, increasing the amount of time each test takes to administer. An additional component of the test, the vehicle inspection or pre trip test, is added. This portion of the test mirrors the report CDL drivers must fill out each day, detailing that the commercial vehicle is safe to drive. 49 CFR Part 383.113.
  • Commercial Skills Test Information Management System (CSTIMS) begins. CSTIMS provides for CDL test scheduling, tracking of exam results, and examiner certification information to ensure the specialists are properly trained and certified to administer the specific exams required. Specialists must record exam results in CSTIMS. All CDL examiners must be certified by the state. The state implemented CSTIMS as the official system of record to for CDL Skills tests conducted by the department and third-party providers. 49 CFR Part 384.229.
  • Impact Texas Young Drivers (ITYD) begins. Applicants ages 18 through 24 must view ITYD and receive a completion certificate no earlier than 90 days prior to taking the skills exam. Applicants 25 years of age and older who are not required to take driver education must also view ITYD and receive a completion certificate no earlier than 90 days prior to taking the skills exam. Specialists must explain this requirement and providing information to assist with completion of the ITYD requirement. Specialists must scan the certificate into the driver record. Customers without proper documentation of completion of the program must return to the office with the additional documents to complete the transaction. 37 TAC §15.62.

2017:

  • Voluntary donations for sexual assault kit testing begins. Specialists must explain the program and answer questions about the donation option. TRC §521.012.

2019:

  • Reclassification of Customer Service Representatives. The 86th Texas Legislature authorized the reclassification of Customer Service Representatives to License and Permit Specialists.

1 Adding database check requirements increases transaction times waiting for responses from federal systems and causes delays when information is not available due to technical issues.

2 Adding database check requirements increases transaction times waiting for responses from federal systems and causes delays when information is not available due to technical issues.

3 Adding database check requirements increases transaction times waiting for responses from federal systems and causes delays when information is not available due to technical issues.

If you are still having difficulties finding an answer to your problem, please let us know. You can ask questions directly by sending an e-mail to our Customer Service Center. Please include an e-mail address and phone number in the text of your e-mail to ensure that you receive a response.

FAQs about the Driver License Division

Welcome to the FAQ About the Driver License Division page. These FAQs are intended to provide information for the most commonly asked questions from customers and legislators, and provide insight to the daily operations of driver services.

Note: Links to additional information will be bolded in dark blue. Simply place your mouse over the link and click to access the information you are looking for.

General

   1. Why are there long lines at driver license offices?

In both Fiscal Year (FY) 17 and (FY) 18, most driver license (DL) transactions could have been conducted alternatively (online, by mail or by phone). However, these customers continue to conduct their transactions in person, which means more than 50% of all customers visiting driver license offices do not need to do so.

In fall 2018, Texas.gov conducted a marketing study through Deloitte and found that 91% of our customers are aware of the ability to renew their license online yet still choose to conduct their transactions in person. The top reasons for coming into a driver license office are:

  • 22% - To update their photo
  • 19% - Do not want to disclose sensitive information online
  • 19% - More comfortable speaking to a person
  • 14% - Do not want to pay online convenience fees
  • 14% - Do not want to pay additional fees to conduct a transaction online (assume the transaction fees online are higher than in person transactions).

As long as customers choose to come into our offices rather than conduct their transaction alternatively, resources will need to increase for driver license operations.

Also, please note that the Texas.gov fee of $1 is the same whether the transaction is conducted online or in the office.


   2. How has DPS informed customers that they can conduct their transaction alternatively?

Customers who need to renew their DL or ID receive two different kinds of letters. This is the DR-5 and the DR-32. One is for renewing in person, which is the DR-5. The other provides the three alternatives for renewal, and encourages them to handle their transaction alternatively, which is the DR-32. These letters are provided 60 days prior to the expiration date.

For customers who do not currently have a REAL ID compliant card and are eligible to renew their DL or ID, a reminder that their DL or ID will expire within the next 24 months is being sent every 90 days until October 2020. These letters instruct the customer to visit their local driver license office, or if they are eligible, to renew by an alternate method such as online, by telephone, or by mail.

Partnership with Texas.gov to provide an alternative to using audit number for transactions

We partner with DIR and Texas.gov to provide customers an alternative to the use of their DL or ID audit number when they conduct a Texas.gov transaction for a renewal, replacement or change of address online. Customers were not eligible to conduct transactions online when they did not have their audit number. Beginning April 2018, customers may also access online services by answering a series of questions specific to the customer for an additional fee of $1.75.


Driver License Operations

    1. What is DPS doing to help decrease vacancies in the Driver License Division?

The Driver License Division deployed a new hiring process in January of 2019. This pilot was designed to reduce the amount of time expended for the purposes of hiring new License and Permit Specialists (specialists) throughout the Division. This new process breaks down into two phases.

During phase one of the process, applications are screened using standardized criteria. Applicants that pass the screening are sent an email invite to attend a Driver License Open House Event. The Open House Event provides information to potential candidates about being a specialist in the DLD. The material presented includes information about the history of the DLD, salary, benefits, duties and expectations. At the conclusion of the presentation, candidates are shown a video that was developed using actual specialists working in the DLD, and highlights the contributions and public service provided by DPS employees every day. This video also provides information on the education and promotional opportunities for specialists.

At this point in the process, candidates are given an opportunity to move to the interview phase of the process or to "opt-out," if they feel the specialist position is not a good fit for them.

Phase two of the process is group interviews before a panel of staff members from area offices. Candidates go before the interview panel in groups of 2 – 4 where they describe how they would respond to defined customer situations and answer questions related to their work experience. Candidates are scored individually based on their experience, application and interview. At the end of the interview, scores are calculated and the top candidates are selected and presented with a conditional job offer and instructions on how to proceed with the background investigation.

Each Open House Event averages 2.5 hours, reducing the time it takes to conduct interviews from 3-5 days to a few hours.


    2. Why do I hear that DL Offices close their doors before the office officially closes?

In larger offices, a driver license office will try to assist any customer who is in the door before the office closes. If there is a long line, this requires the DL employees to stay until all customers are processed, which can extend more than  1 to 2 hours beyond closing time, depending on how many customers were remaining. During the summer months, employees might have to serve customers up to 2 hours and 30 minutes after closing.

Last year, in an attempt to ensure that neither customers nor employees had to stay unreasonably late in a DL office, DPS began to review the number of customers in the queue both online and in person. When the capacity of the office is reached, DL management has the authority to let customers in line know where the cut-off point is that customers can no longer be served. Customers beyond that cut off point are advised that they would not be able to be seen and are encouraged to come back the next day.

With small offices, the office may be seen to be "closed" when the specialist is conducting a driver test, banking duties or at lunch.  DPS recommends that we fully staff even the one person offices with additional employees in order to ensure those offices stay open during business hours.


    3. Why are the wait times in DL offices so long?

The 86th Legislature appropriated additional staffing resources. The department is diligently working to hire these employees and anticipates the new employees will be fully trained and assisting customers by December 2019/January 2020. These employees are being placed in the Mega Centers and extremely overcrowded offices to help reduce the wait times.

The Driver License Division currently has 229 offices throughout the state, ranging in size from 1 counter to more than 40 counters in our Mega Centers.

As of September 1, 2018, DPS had a total of 1,138 workstations spread among the 229 offices, but only 918.5 of those are able to be manned at any given time. This leaves 219.5 workstations unmanned.

In our smallest offices, there are still significant wait times because if the one employee conducts a drive test or banking issues, no other customers can be served.  Adding staff to all smaller offices would provide efficiencies for all customers.

Even in our largest offices, like Houston North, while there are 42 workstations, and 61 license and permit specialists assigned, not all workstations will be manned because some specialists are providing drive tests, commercial drive tests, or otherwise assisting customers not at a processing station (like at the info desk). Some Specialists may also be on vacation or sick leave. The office needs an additional 28 employees in order to ensure that every workstation can be fully manned, while still accomplishing all of the other tasks, like providing testing or assistance at the information desk.


    4. Why aren't the DL Mega Centers decreasing the wait times at those locations?

The 86th Legislature appropriated additional staffing resources. The department is diligently working to hire these employees and anticipates the new employees will be fully trained and assisting customers by December 2019/January 2020. These employees are being placed in the Mega Centers and extremely overcrowded offices to help reduce the wait times.

There are currently 14 Mega Centers, defined as having at least 22 available workstations built in.  This doesn't mean all of these offices actually have 22 active workstations, only that they were built with the ability to grow to that size.

The Mega Centers are located at: Carrollton, Corpus Christi, Dallas South, Edinburg, Fort Worth, Garland, Houston North, Houston South East, Leon Valley, Midland, Pflugerville, Rosenberg, Houston Gessner and Spring.

Though these offices may have many stations, they don't necessarily have them all "manned." For example, in one of our largest offices, like Houston North, while there are 42 workstations and 61 license and permit specialists assigned to that office, not all workstations will be manned because some specialists are providing drive tests, commercial drive tests, or otherwise assisting customers not at a processing station (like at the info desk). Some specialists may also be on vacation or sick leave. The office needs an additional 28 employees in order to ensure that every workstation can be fully manned, while still accomplishing all of the other tasks, like providing testing or assistance at the information desk.

Though we have been targeting some of our largest offices to fully staff, currently no Mega Center is fully staffed.

DPS has submitted a request to the Texas Legislature to fully staff all Driver License offices so that all workstations will be manned, and we can more efficiently serve our customers.


    5. Where would new Driver License offices be needed?

DPS reviewed data from the State Demographer that details where in Texas the highest growth is projected to be. The new locations needed are:

  • Plano – Includes 42 workstations, 61 additional Full Time Employee (FTEs) for a cost of $13.8M.
  • San Antonio – Includes 42 workstations, 74 additional FTEs for a cost of $16.4M.
  • South Austin/San Marcos  – Includes 42 workstations, 71 additional FTEs for a cost of $15.8M.
  • Houston/Katy – Includes 42 workstations, 95 additional FTEs for a cost of $20.8M.
  • Temple – Includes 12 workstations, 37.5 additional FTEs for a cost of $8.6M.
  • Denton – Includes 12 workstations, 33.5 additional FTEs for a cost of $7M.
  • El Paso – Includes 42 workstations, 74.5 additional FTEs for a cost of $16.4M.
  • Beaumont – Includes 24 workstations, 50 additional FTEs for a cost of $11.4M.
  • Fort Worth – Includes 42 workstations, 67.5 additional FTEs for a cost of $15.1M.
  • Wichita Falls – Includes 12 workstations, 28.5 additional FTEs for a cost of $6.6M.
  • Abilene – Includes 12 workstations, 32.5 additional FTEs for a cost of $7.4M.
  • Bowie & Cass Counties – Includes 12 workstations, 38 additional FTEs for a cost of $8.5M.
  • El Paso – Includes 42 workstations, 61 additional FTEs for a cost of $13.7M.
  • McAllen – Includes 24 workstations, 53 additional FTEs for a cost of $12M.
  • Houston Northeast– Includes 42 workstations, 69 additional FTEs for a cost of $15.4M.

The full cost of these 15 offices with 846 additional DL FTEs and 106.4 indirect FTEs is $190M. During the 86th Legislative session, the Legislature appropriated funding for a new office in Angleton, and Denton, Texas. The request for additional offices will be reviewed and resubmitted during the 87th legislative session, to be held in 2021.


    6. How are new locations for DL offices chosen?

Typically, the process is that DPS recommends locations based on population growth. Then the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) creates the solicitation and determines the winning bid.

DPS and TFC work in partnership so that TFC can choose the proper location based on the need that DPS has and the available funding.


    7. How has DPS spent Driver License funding throughout the years, and why is that not enough?

Since Driver License Improvement Plan (DLIP) funding began in 2012, a net total of 300 workstations were added to DL offices statewide, along with 13 Mega Centers, 6 large offices and 66 office remodels/refreshes.

The Driver License Division currently has 229 offices throughout the state, ranging in size from 1 counter to over 40 counters in our Driver License Centers.

As of September 1, 2018, the state had a total of 1,138 workstations spread among the 229 offices. Keep in mind, only 918.5 of those are able to be manned at any given time. This leaves 219.5 workstations unmanned.

 

Legislative Session Offices Opened Offices Relocated Offices Remodeled/
Refreshed
Offices Closed Capital Projects
82nd Session:
Funding provided was used to open 8 new offices, relocate 1 office, remodel/refresh 31 offices and add 361 FTEs.
6 Mega Centers: Rosenberg, Spring, Leon Valley, Pflugerville, Fort Worth, Garland 1 Medium office: Houston East
1 scheduled office: Junction
Liberty Midland, Odessa, Austin North, Hurst, New Braunfels, Fort Worth South, Decatur, Baytown, Beaumont, Brownville,
San Antonio General McMullen, Houston Townhurst, Conroe, Humble, Childress, Longview, Plainview, Terrell, Sherman, Brownwood, Crosbyton, Dumas, Pampa, Wichita Falls, Houston Gessner, Orange, Pierce, Big Spring, Fort Stockton, Lamesa and Pecos.
Shamrock,Rusk, Edinburg, Dallas Downtown, Houston Tidwell and Rosenberg (FTEs reallocated to other/new offices)  
83rd Session:
Funding provided was used to open 11 new offices, relocate 8 offices, remodel/refresh 6 offices, and add 16 FTEs.
3 Mega Centers: Dallas South, Corpus Christi and Houston North
1 Large Office: Lake Worth
3 Scheduled CDL sites: Waco, Hearne, Kilgore
4 Scheduled Offices: Hebbronville, Pearsall, Ozona, Fort Worth East
Dalhart, Denver City, Linden, Crockett, Presidio, Aransas Pass, Rio Grande City and Paris McAllen, Houston Winkler, Boerne, Waco, Livingston and Perryton Kountze, Atlanta and Corpus Christi (FTEs reallocated to other/new offices)  
84th Session:
Funding provided was used to open 22 new offices, relocate 11 offices, remodel/refresh 29 offices, 5 capital projects and add 170.3 FTEs. In addition repair requests, such as restriping parking, repairing pot holes, replacing lights and doors and adding security cameras, were made for 45 offices.
4 Mega Centers: Edinburg, Carrollton, Midland and Houston Southeast
5 Large offices: Amarillo, Killeen, New Braunfels, Georgetown and Grand Prairie (opening June 2018)
3 Small Offices: Hempstead, Jacksonville and Flower Mound (opening July 2018)
10 Scheduled/ County agreements: Iraan, Post, Vega, Spearman, Cotulla, Lockhart, Marlin, Tolar, Madisonville, Hemphill
Lewisville, Caldwell, Levelland, Castroville, Centerville, Marble Falls, Sinton, Andrews, Goldthwaite,  Friona, and Fort Hood Borger, Brownfield, Mineral Wells, Columbus, Sweetwater, Hillsboro,
Big Spring, Weatherford, Angleton, Marshall, Canton, Cleburne, Brenham,
San Angelo, Stephenville, Alice, Sulphur Springs,
Texas City, Pampa, Seguin, Uvalde, Harlingen, Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Laredo, Fort Worth Mega Center, Garland Mega Center and
San Angelo Houston East (remodel due to flooding after Hurricane Harvey)
Dallas Southeast, San Antonio Babcock, Houston Townhurst, Houston Vantage Parkway, Houston Grant Road, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Burnet, Copperas Cove, Marble Falls, Odessa, Alvin, Houston Winkler, Pasadena, and Clear Lake-Webster, Carrollton, Arlington, Granbury, Hondo, Midland, Georgetown, Jacksonville, Killeen, Austin Denson and New Braunfels (FTEs reallocated to other/new offices) Gessner remodel and annex, Townhurst (ALR), Austin North West, Livingston and Lubbock
85th Session:
A 4% budget cut was implemented.  Two offices were closed and 108 funded FTEs were eliminated.
      Dallas East and Cedar Hill  
86th Session:
762 additional FTEs were authorized (713 Driver License office personnel and 49 DPS support personnel). Legislature authorized the exchange of land in Orange County, Texas for the development of a new driver license office. Additionally, the legislature authorized new driver license offices facilities in Angleton and Denton, Texas.
         

Commercial Driver License Issues

    1. Why can't DPS waive the rules to make it easier for Texans to get a CDL?

Commercial Driver License laws and standards are dictated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

While states have an informal ability to provide input through the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), CDL regulations are federal law. If Texas disregarded the federal standards, our program would be out of compliance and FMCSA could issue a Notice of Non-Compliance resulting in the decertification of Texas' CDL program, thereby prohibiting the ability to issue CDLs to its citizens and enabling federal highway funds to be withheld from the State of Texas.  This could affect the nearly 700,000 valid CDL holders and cost the State of Texas up to 4% of the federal highway funds during the first year of non-compliance (estimated at over $130M) and up to 8% of the federal highway funds during the second year of non-compliance (estimated at over $260M).

In 2011, FMCSA changed the standards for CDL testing to include a vehicle inspection "pre trip" test as the beginning of the process.  During this process, drivers have to walk around the vehicle and determine that the various components are fully functional.

This test mirrors the report that every motor carrier requires every driver to submit each day the vehicle is operated.  The reports have to cover: service brakes, parking brake, steering mechanism, lighting, reflectors, tires, horn, windshield wipers, mirrors and emergency equipment.

The report has to detail any defect or deficiency that the driver discovers that could affect the safety of the vehicle. The driver must sign the report.

School bus drivers are exempted from submitting this report daily. However, they are expected to know how each of the components works, and since they can drive other commercial vehicles within that class other than school buses, they are subject to the vehicle inspection portion of the test.


    2. What changes did FMCSA make to the CDL tests?

In 2011, FMCSA implemented increased standards for CDL drivers. DPS was granted an extension and implemented these regulations in late 2016.

A challenge with the implementation of the new uniform CDL testing standards has been the increase in the time needed to successfully execute a skills test.  These new uniform testing standards, which have increased testing time from one hour to approximately two hours per test, now include:

  • A new pre-trip inspection test.  Conversion of the current pre-trip written test to a randomized vehicle walk around test, requiring the applicant to identify the components of the vehicle which require a check prior to placing the vehicle into operation.
    • Please note: Per the Commercial Skills Test Information     Management System (CSTIMS) there appears to be a dramatic     difference in passage rates of persons who take third party     testing (comprised of companies and schools with training     programs) vs come straight into the office to take their tests.     This shows that persons who participate in a formal training     program appear to have a higher passage rate than those who     do not.
  • A revised scoring criteria.  The scoring of the basic maneuvers and road-test has changed.  Points are now deducted for encroachments and excessive pull-ups during the execution of the basic skills test, and the road test has increased the number of maneuvers from three to four each.
  • An increase in the size of the basic skills testing area.  The basic skills testing maneuver area must be marked utilizing cones so that the exam may be scored according to the revised scoring criteria and segregated from public roadways.  This testing area must be at least 33' by 240' to accommodate all three maneuvers. 
  • An additional basic skills test maneuver.  An off-set backing maneuver is now required, in addition to the existing parallel parking and straight-line backing maneuvers.
  • A mandatory Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) holding period.  CDL applicants are required to obtain and hold a (CLP) for 14 days prior to skills testing to gain additional driving experience.  This extends the amount of time an applicant must wait before taking a skills test.
  • Mandatory CDL skills test examiner certification.  CDL skills examiners are required to be federally certified to administer CDL exams and must conduct at least 10 exams annually.
    • As of April 2, 2019, DPS has 167 employees dedicated to CDL     transactions with 18 vacancies.
  • Secondary review of CDL transactions.  All CDL transactions must have a secondary, independent evaluation within 24 hours to prevent fraud. 

    3. What is DPS doing to assist CDL applicants to pass the Vehicle Inspection or Pre Trip test?

In addition to providing the CDL handbook that outlines the process and contains all relevant study materials, DPS has created a series of videos specifically for school bus applicants. These videos are available on our website and have received thousands of views since being published.

As of April 13, 2019: Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection Exam:

  • Module 1 – Engine Start was published on February 7, 2018 and has 53,375 views
  • Module 2 – School Bus Pre Trip Inspection was published on May 8, 2018 and has 20,505 views
  • Module 3 – Engine Components was published on August 13, 2018 and has 18,352 views
  • Module 4 – The Exterior was published on August 13, 2018 and has 13,973 views
  • Module 5 – The Axles was published on August 13, 2018 and 12,875 views
  • Module 6 – Coupling Systems was published on August 14, 2018 and 12,042 views.

The videos can be found at: Commercial Driver License (CDL) Instructional Videos


    4. What options are available for taking a Commercial Drive Test?

Applicants have three options: they can schedule a test at one of the DPS CDL locations, can request testing from one of our CDL mobile teams or they can take the test through a Third Party Skills Testing provider, if eligible.

DPS CDL locations – DPS CDL locations can be found at: Texas CDL Skills Testing Locations

Third Party Skills Testing - In April 2017, DPS initiated a Third Party Skills Testing (TPST) program to allow qualified companies, certified by the Department, to administer the driving skills examinations for CDL applicants. As of May 2, 2019, there are 85 authorized TPST programs. Applicants, who are students or employees of these programs, have the option of testing at DPS or at one of the current TPST locations.

The Department provides additional TPST training sessions to eligible organizations on a quarterly basis. 

Additional information on TPSTs can be found at CDL Third Party Skills Testing Program

CDL Mobile Teams – The Department established nine mobile CDL testing teams to serve customers outside of the 50-mile radius from one of the fixed testing sites.  Approximately 6% of our potential applicants are outside of this area.  The primary customers for these mobile teams are community colleges, school districts, education centers, fire departments, and other government entities.  These customers may request mobile team services by contacting the local Driver License Regional Managers. 


School Bus Issues

    1. Why are school buses considered Commercial Vehicles when they are so different?

A school bus is similar in weight, design and passenger capacity to a Class B vehicle. Therefore, all school bus drivers have to be tested in a similar manner as other commercial vehicle drivers.


    2. Why do school bus drivers have to know mechanical things like "how to build an engine?"

There are many myths about the CDL testing process. Specifically, this question comes from the new federally-mandated vehicle inspection or pre-trip test. The pre-trip test requires CDL applicants to identify key components of the vehicle as a "hands on" inspection. All information to study can be found in the Texas Commercial Driver Handbook. 

School bus applicants specifically are advised to review and be prepared to test on Sections 10 – 13. Section 10, specifically related to school buses. A review of this section indicates the focus is on the safety of the child passengers.

Section 11.3 details specific questions for school bus drivers related to: emergency equipment, lighting indicators, lights/reflectors, mirrors, the stop arm, passenger entry, emergency exit and seating. The goal of understanding each of these items is safety of the child passengers.


Other

    1. Did DPS divert driver license funding to other parts of the department? If the Driver License program needs money, why would the agency move it to a different program?

Several years ago, Driver License leadership engaged the Internal Auditor's office to ensure that all funding was being used appropriately. At that time, the Auditor's office responded that the expenditures were appropriate, but due to record retention policies, not all related receipts were available, since they had already met the time frame to be purged.

In late 2018, the State Auditor's Office reported that DPS "complied with selected financial requirements for driver license funds outlined in the General Appropriations Act related to transfers."


    2. Why did I get a letter stating that, due to Real ID, I have to renew my license or ID card two years ahead of time?

DPS officially became REAL ID compliant (a federal requirement) in October 2016.

In an effort to reach out to the customers who are eligible to renew prior to the October 2020 deadline, DPS has begun mailing customers letters two years prior to their card's expiration date, explaining that they can renew up to two years in advance – and encouraging them to do so. DPS will mail letters to these customers every 90 days as reminders. These customers are a mix of people who have to come in person and those who can conduct their transaction alternatively.


    3. What happened to the Driver Responsibility Program? Do I need to continue to pay my surcharges? Does DPS want to keep the program because it funds DPS employees?

The Driver Responsibility Program was repealed with passage of House Bill 2048 by the 86th Texas Legislature, therefore you are no longer required to pay your surcharges.

The DPS Driver License Division had 43 Full Time Employees (FTEs) that directly supported the DRP – 32 of whom are assigned to the call center; the remainder are Customer Service Analysts (CSAs) who helped review files of the customers in the program. These FTE's have been repurposed to other DL duties to reduce the current staffing deficit.

For more information on the repeal of the Driver Responsibility Program visit our Driver Responsibility Program (Surcharge) Repeal FAQs.


    4. Is DPS partnering with municipalities and counties to issue DLs and IDs? Does this partnership work?

Yes, the Texas Transportation Code allows DPS to partner with municipalities and counties to issue renewal and duplicate DL and ID cards. By participating in this program, the county or municipal government can impose a fee of up to $5 per transaction. Currently 11 jurisdictions are participating in this program.

In FY 18, this program conducted nearly 7,000 transactions. This provided 7,000 customers with an alternative to coming into a traditional driver license office.


    5. Does DPS have mobile units? If so, why don't you use them to expand your Driver License services?

The Driver License Division (DLD) has Disaster Response Units (DRU) that were first deployed as a pilot during the wildfires in Bastrop County in 2011. DLD has six DRU sets divided into three deployable units. When deployed, the DRU requires space, electricity and internet (WIFI) to be provided by the agency being supported. The units are normally employed by the local emergency manager at a Multi-Agency Resource Center.

These have been used at the following events: West Fertilizer Plant Explosion (2013), Austin Dove Spring Floods (2013), Wimberley/San Marcos Memorial Day Flood (2015), San Antonio Nursing Home Fire (2015), Eagle Pass Flood (2015), Dallas County Tornado (2015) and Hurricane Harvey (2017).

Because there is no dedicated team to staff the DRUs, when deployed, those staff are removed from their traditional assigned duty station. Though they are typically used in a disaster relief effort, with additional staff for each unit, these could be deployed to provide additional driver license coverage in underserved areas.


    6. Why does DPS sell driver records?

Per the Texas Transportation Code, DPS is authorized to disclose certain types of information to requestors including:

  • DOB, license status, address (521.045)
  • Accident and conviction information (521.046)
  • DOB, license status, address, completion of a driver education course, traffic violations and motor vehicle accidents – this is only to disclose to the license holder (521.047)
  • Names, addresses, and DOBs of all license holders in the file (521.050)
  • Similar information can be provided by CDL holders. (521.053)

Texas Transportation Code Chapter 730 outlines the types of persons that can request the information and what it can be used for. Permitted disclosures include:

  • Use by a government agency
  • Use in connection with motor vehicle safety, theft, monitoring, research activities
  • Use in research to provide reports
  • Use by an insurance company
  • Use by a private investigator or licensed security
  • Use in connection by an employer or insurer for CDL purposes

The fees related to the sale of driver records are not appropriated to DPS.


    7. Why did DPS want to shut down 87 offices?

In the Sunset Commission staff report, commission staff included a recommendation to "require DPS to develop and implement a plan to close inefficient driver license offices." However, the full Sunset Commission rejected that recommendation. That helped to form DPS' current Exceptional Item to fully staff all driver license offices, requiring 854 additional DL employees and 106.9 indirect employees.

The Exceptional Item request includes the one-person and scheduled offices, because if the one employee is sick, on vacation, has child care issues, etc., the entire office closes. These offices either need to be consolidated into larger offices, or grown into full-time offices with at least 3 employees each.


    8. Why did DPS cancel its initiative for self-service kiosks?

In June 2017, DPS cancelled the project for a self-service kiosk for DL. This project was cancelled for several reasons:

  • It was determined that the scope was too broad. Instead of the need for functionality to include vision testing, capturing fingerprints and photos, etc., the target should be reducing the number of customers who go into the office who could renew online, by mail or by phone.
  • A pilot project placing computers in the lobby was started to capture those customers and take them out of the line and proven to be successful.
  • The pilot project was prevented from being expanded due to a lawsuit. However, when the lawsuit is resolved, DPS is prepared to immediately place computers in the lobby of every office so customers can have additional avenues to conduct their transactions.
  • Since the pilot, we have learned that some customers just prefer to come into an office to talk to an employee in person. Having the ability to use laptops at our check in desks could provide the customer who can conduct their transaction alternatively, the ability to talk to an employee and still conduct their transaction on the computer, rather than waiting in line.

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