Officials: Get new IDs early

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 4, 2014

Changes brought on by the new STAR IDs will not be in full effect for all Alabamians until 2017, but several aspects of the switch could cause problems for Covington County residents who wait too long to request a new card.

The new regulations restrict the issuing of STAR IDs by any probate office. The new IDs may only be issued at driver license examining offices operated by the Alabama Department of Public Safety. In Andalusia, that office encompasses one employee and is only open three days a week, Monday through Wednesday, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

With such a small portion of the week to work with, and only one employee to service customers, officials are expecting some back ups.

In Evergreen, where the examining office is open five days a week, employees said they, too, are expecting big crowds and possible long waits, especially on days like Monday, when only one person will be working.

Kevin Cook, public information officer for the ADPS, said making sure the correct documentation is brought will be key in helping understaffed offices like Andalusia’s process the expected high volume of requests.

“Many of our Driver License Examining Offices are understaffed, but we work as efficiently as possible to ensure each customer is served as quickly as possible,” Cook said. “We ask that everyone interested in obtaining a STAR ID review the list of acceptable documents at prior to visiting one of our examining offices.”

Evergreen employees said many of the documents needed will have to be scanned or copied, adding many “outlying” offices don’t have copying machines, and recommended residents bring their own copies – especially if originals are old and may be damaged being run through scanner machines.

Covington County Probate Judge Ben Bowden said the most likely situation requiring a person to need a STAR ID quickly, will be sudden air travel, considering a STAR ID or valid U.S. Passport will be needed to board any plane beginning in 2016.

“A passport takes weeks to get,” Bowden said. “Most people will turn immediately to get a STAR ID. They need to remember that only the examiner’s office is allowed to issue them. Over the next year, if it is time to renew your license, or if you happen to be flying, take the time to get the STAR endorsement now, before you get into some type of hurry-up situation.”

Cook said, for residents with current licenses that do not expire until 2016, they have the option to wait; however, the closer the deadline gets, the more traffic officials say they will be expecting in driver license offices.