Editor’s Note: The story has been modified to clarify the state-operated agency license locations in question.
Last May, Governor Kevin Stitt signed legislation switching driver and car services in the state to an agency called Service Oklahoma, hoping for a permanent solution to the long lines and frustration experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
KFOR went to the Service Oklahoma location on the I-240 Service Road four times in the last month and witnessed long lines in the early morning hours, only to see people turned away minutes after the doors opened.
“I got here about 1:45 a.m.,” said Theresa Wright, who was waiting in line.
Flor Arrieza showed up to take her driving test at 4:10 a.m. She was sent away. She came back the next day.
“I got here at 4:30 a.m.,” said Arrieza, only to be turned away a second time.
Many of those who came to the agency for services had to drive off with an expired driver’s license at no fault of their own. They were not able to be seen to fix the problem.
“They said, ‘oh, we don’t take anybody after nine,’” said Mindy Fowler-Mohney. “I came at 8:30 and they said ‘oh, we’re full.’”
Jay Penner showed up one morning at 8 a.m. but couldn’t be helped.
“They said ‘come back Monday’ and I can’t come back on Monday because I work,” said Penner.
People in line told News 4 the agency would hand out around 20 tickets for different services each morning. When those were gone, an employee would stick a chair outside with a sign that reads “come back tomorrow” and close the door.
“I don’t understand how a place can be open for 10 hours and service as few people as they do in a workday,” said Chris Delk, in line for hours.
KFOR reached out to Service Oklahoma and received this statement:
“Since taking over driver license services in November 2022, Service Oklahoma (SOK) continues to strive to improve the experience for customers. SOK has increased the phone call answer rate 9X the previous rate, and has moved many services online, saving customers valuable time. SOK has also recently completed a full audit of all 30 locations statewide, seeking ways to improve. Findings from this evaluation are now being leveraged to expand our capacity in all locations, reducing wait times and streamlining customer flow. This includes working to alleviate a 20-percent vacancy rate with customer-facing personnel.
Customers in need of driver license services have a number of these special locations to choose from, many of which offer appointments that can be booked ahead of time. We are committed to serving all Oklahomans, and look forward to improving the experience for all customers.”