A federal mandate on the horizon has Tennessee residents flocking to their local driver license offices looking for REAL IDs.
However, long lines and technology issues to get the IDs are the order of the day for many counties in the Lakeway Area as they approach the nationwide October deadline.
“We’ve had some longer than normal wait times, but we’ve doubled our work output, and some days are longer than others,” said Jefferson County Clerk Frank Herndon. “They’ll taper off by the time all the states are compliant on Oct. 1.”
“Today, it’s been seven or eight people at one time, so it’s been really busy. Plus, we only have one computer that we can (process REAL IDs) on,” said Hillary Morgan, deputy clerk in Grainger County. “On average, it’s been about 15 or so people per day here – and we’re a small county.
“The most we’ve had in one day in one day is 22.”
In Tennessee, however, residents do not need a REAL ID to vote, purchase alcohol or cigarettes, drive, access hospitals, visit the post office, gain access to federal courts or apply for or receive federal benefits, such as social security or veterans’ benefits.
Federal legislation signed by President George W. Bush in 2005 requires that anyone who wants to use federal facilities, such as a military base or nuclear power plant, or fly on a commercial airplane have a REAL ID or an acceptable alternative such as a U.S. passport.
Morgan also said her office is one of the busiest in the Lakeway Area because they’re one of the only ones open on weekends, with Saturday hours from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Also, with the county’s proximity to McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville, the clerk’s office does receive some traffic from neighboring counties.
“A lot of people come to this office because not all county clerk’s offices are doing (weekend hours) yet, and we were one of the first offices to start doing (REAL IDs) after the law changed,” she said. “On occasion, we do receive some traffic from Knox County, but not that much.”
Hamblen County Deputy Clerk April Barnard said the main driver’s license office on East Morris Boulevard is experiencing long wait times, but her satellite office on North Davy Crockett Parkway is even busier with customers looking for the new IDs.
“We have been experiencing more traffic here than our other office on East Morris Boulevard,” said Barnard, who joined the county clerk’s office in 1999.
According to the state of Tennessee, the process for obtaining a REAL ID is different from a regular driver’s license. Three types of documents are accepted: proof of citizenship or legal presence, proof of Social Security number and proof of Tennessee residence. All of the documents must be originals or certified copies. No photocopies will be accepted.
To prove your citizenship, you will either a U.S. birth certificate from your state’s Office of Vital Statistics or equivalent with a raised and/or color seal, a valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card, a U.S. certificate or consular report of birth abroad a valid, unexpired permanent resident card issued by Department of Homeland Security or Immigration and Naturalization Service.
These documents must show the applicant’s legal name and full date of birth. The applicant must present one of the following documents: an unexpired employment authorization document issued by DHS, an unexpired foreign passport with a valid U.S. visa and an approved I-94 form certificate of naturalization issued by DHS or a certificate of citizenship issued by DHS.
If there has been a name change, a certified legal document, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree or court order must be presented.
To prove your Social Security number, an applicant must present one of the following approved documents showing applicant’s name and full Social Security Number: a Social Security card, a W-2 within last 12 months, a payroll check stub or 1099 within last 12 months.
To prove legal residency, the applicant must provide two documents showing name and physical address:
• home utility bill within past four months, i.e. gas, electric or water from different providers;
• Online bills must have URL address displayed. Wireless phone plans cannot be accepted.
• Current Tennessee vehicle registration or certificate of title (may use one, not both)
• Current Tennessee Voter Registration card
• IRS tax return within last 12 months
• Bank statement within past four months
• Payroll check stub within past four months
• Current rental/mortgage contract or receipt, including deed of sale for property (handwritten rental contracts or agreements must be notarized)
• Current homeowner or renter insurance policy
• Current automobile, life or health insurance policy
• Receipt for personal property or real estate taxes paid within the previous year
• Installment loans, such as automobile, student loans and bank loans
• Current employer verification of resident address or letter from employer - as long as it is on company letterhead with original signature (if employer does not have letterhead, then signature of employer must be notarized)
• Current Driver License or ID or Handgun Carry Permit issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety to a parent, legal guardian or spouse of the applicant
• Applicant’s Driver License, ID or Handgun Carry Permit issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety
Morgan said she has experienced a great deal of frustration from customers because of the amount of documents needed – as well as the type of documents needed to obtain a REAL ID.
“We’ve had to turn away our share of people because they didn’t have the right kinds of documents needed to get a REAL ID,” she said. “It’s not the same as getting a regular driver’s license.”
For further information on the state’s REAL ID program, visit tn.gov/tnrealid.