Driver’s license exam sites across Oklahoma may close due to budget cuts

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The Department of Public Safety is facing a budget crisis and said it may have to cut its budget by 15 percent.

If that happens, the department said it would have to close most of the driver's license examination offices in the state.

"We are facing a manpower crisis and a budget crisis," said Trooper Dwight Durant.

Durant said the department may have no choice but to close 25 of 36 driver's license exam offices, leaving only 11 in all of Oklahoma.

"Your first instinct is to think of the lines and how long they are going to be. But, what we need to think of first is the employees. They have families. They have insurance, and some have been employees for their lifetime and they are facing a force reduction, basically a layoff," Durant said.

Exam sites are responsible for screening the state's first-time driver's license applicants.

Workers administer hearing vision and skills tests.

The site also handles license transfers, commercial driver's licenses and ID cards.

"They are already understaffed, and we are going to multiply this," Durant said.

Among the exam sites potential facing closure: Ada, Edmond, Norman, Stillwater, Miami and Grove.

Representatives Cory Williams said the state must invest in public safety, saying "If we fail to do so, we will see more closures and more of our children and grandchildren leaving the state to find opportunity."

State law requires the agency operate sites every 100 miles.

"A lot of people like to go downtown in Edmond, because it's so easy to get it to, and people have busy lives," said Menchelle Doolittle, resident.

Drivers will still be able to go to their local tag agents to renew or update existing Oklahoma licenses, but new drivers should be prepared for a long trip and wait.

"I feel like we need to better balance our budget, that way we are not putting people out of work and putting people out of their way to do something," Doolittle said.

Durant said they are looking at other alternatives such as furloughs, force reduction or ending trooper academies.

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