Local license office safe for now

Published 1:18 am Saturday, August 29, 2015


Covington County’s driver’s license office is not one of the 33 offices that will be phased out on Oct. 1, if lawmakers don’t level fund the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier made the announcement Friday morning in a press release.

“Currently, ALEA maintains 75 driver license district and field offices across the state, but budget allocations do not cover costs, and we operate with a $8.2 million deficit,” he said.

The proposed plan calls for closing the 33 field offices on Oct. 1. Then, on Jan. 1, district offices will close leaving only 12 offices open statewide, and on March 1, all operations will be moved to Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile.

“The driver’s license office here in Covington County is extremely important to us, and we are very concerned about the possibility it might close,” Probate Judge Ben Bowden said. “Unfortunately, that office is operated by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and we have no real control over whether it stays open.

“Public safety is the core mission of state government,” Collier said. “We are facing a looming budget crisis in government services and this is a statewide problem that will affect each of us. Gov. Bentley’s solution is an easy, workable and fair proposal that will raise $300 million in revenue and help the state continue to provide these services to Alabama citizens.”

Driver’s license offices in surrounding counties are among those proposed to be closed on Oct. 1.

They include:

• Greenville;

• Luverne;

• Brewton; and,

• Geneva;

There is good news, though.

“The good news is that the probate office will continue to provide renewal and replacement of driver’s licenses as we have in the past,” Bowden said. “Only those who need reinstatement, initial issuance, or other specialized services will need to visit an examiner’s office. I plan to stay in close contact with Secretary Collier and will continue to press him to keep the Covington County office open.”