While Hendersonville is Sumner County’s largest city, many residents have wondered why the closest state Driver Services Center is located in Gallatin.
State House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) is hoping to change that.
Lamberth announced recently he’s requesting funding in the 2020-2021 state budget for a second full-service Driver Services Center in Sumner County.
“Hendersonville is one of our fastest growing Middle Tennessee communities and a new Driver Services Center there would provide more timely and efficient customer service for our entire region,” he said.
The funding request – about $431,000 - would provide for a new, full-service center that would offer road testing services along with basic services like identification issuance, driving permits and renewals, motor vehicle records, vision testing, gun carry permits, driver knowledge and skills testing.
“We have just one location in Gallatin that is overwhelmed daily with citizens who are experiencing long wait times for simple services like getting a license renewed or taking a road test,” Lamberth added. “The state of Tennessee should be able to provide these services at a much more rapid pace.”
The Gallatin Driver Services Center – one of 44 full-service centers across the state - provided 63,134 driver service transactions in 2019, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
Sumner County also has two self-service license renewal kiosk locations at Hendersonville City Hall and at the Sumner County Clerk’s Office on Belvedere Drive in Gallatin.
Gov. Bill Lee said he planned to include 80 new driver services center positions in his State of the State Address in February.
“For many Tennesseans the only interaction they have with their government is the Driver Services division at the Department of Safety,” said Lee. “Tennesseans deserve to have great interactions with our state government, and I have asked our Department of Safety to take steps to improve experiences at our Driver Services Centers.”
Lee said he was proposing the positions and funding to help decrease wait times for those who are obtaining a REAL ID license.
Per the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, Tennesseans will need to have a REAL ID license by Oct. 1, 2020 for access to certain federal buildings, for travel on commercial flights within the U.S., and for entering nuclear facilities.
According to a spokesperson with Lamberth’s office, the legislator hopes to have the funding in place for a new facility in Hendersonville by July 1, with a new center up and running within a year.
It will be up to the Department of Safety to secure the location that will most likely be leased, the spokesperson added.
Several customers at the Driver Services Center in Gallatin said a new Sumner location is needed.
Lucy Young was in line for two-and-a-half hours on Friday renewing her driver’s license.
“It could have been a lot worse,” she said. “I didn’t mind the wait that much, but I could see where a new facility would help with the amount of people who come through here.”
Hendersonville resident Todd Szymanski was waiting for his second daughter to take the road test to get her driver’s license.
“Some of us were just wondering why a large, growing city like Hendersonville doesn’t have one of these facilities,” said Szymanski. “It would just be a lot more convenient for all of us.”