Locals weigh in on private companies issuing driver's licenses - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Locals weigh in on private companies issuing driver's licenses

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METAIRIE, La. - A pilot program that allows drivers to use private contractors to renew Louisiana driver's licenses may be a solution to a problem that was the subject of a FOX 8 investigative report.

But some drivers said private contractors should not have access to that kind of personal information.

Louisiana's Office of Motor Vehicles has a test program in Metairie and Baton Rouge that allows private contractors to handle driver's license renewals for an extra fee of $18 per person in addition to the regular license renewal fee. Businesses that are already permitted to process vehicle title registrations are able to renew licenses. State Police said it's an effort to reduce long lines and hours of waiting at motor vehicle offices.

In August, FOX 8 News exposed how people waited hours in line, only to be told at the close of business that they needed to return the next day.

People leaving the OMV on Veterans Boulevard had mixed views on the offerings of the pilot program.

"I think it's totally worth it because you don't have to sit here," said Maggie Schommer. "This takes a long time, like most of your day, so I'd pay the $18 to get it right away."

She accompanied a friend to get a license. It was his fourth trip to the OMV.

"Yes, every time I came they had a different reason why I couldn't do it this time," said a frustrated Stephen Collet.

He said he used a private contractor to get a state ID card, and the experience was well worth the extra money he shelled out.

"I've done it already, and that works out real well," Collet said.

But others are taking a wait-and-see approach.

"I just kind of feel like I take my chances here first and see how bad it is," said Carole Duplantis as she headed into the OMV.

The Slidell OMV is moving toward privatizing some of its functions, according to Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell. He said the head of the Department of Motor Vehicles would appear at the City Council meeting Tuesday evening to field questions from the public about what the impact could be.

"Basically, privatizing certain functions enables the state agency to handle more people there, while at the same time offering an alternate course of action, if you will, for people to go and get other things at that office that that department offers," Crowe said.

But one Slidell resident who wished not to be identified said private contractors should not have access to personal information as state workers do.

"Number one, you're giving very private information to a private company," the man stated.

"Nothing's private anymore anyway, so what difference does it make?" asked Collet.

State Police said no OMV offices are being closed during the pilot program and those getting a  driver's license for the first time cannot use private contractors.

"So, for example, the initial license that a young driver, or someone would go in for, that would still be handled at that location, the state-run office there," said Crowe.

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