The Sunset Advisory Commission unanimously voted on Wednesday to reject a proposal to close 87 Texas Department of Public Safety driver’s license offices. DPS had recommended that the commission — which reviews state agency performance and recommends changes — vote to close the offices, most of which are in rural areas, citing office inefficiency. Commission members — five state senators, five state representatives and two members of the public — voted 11-0 against shuttering doors. One of the members of the public on the commission, Ronald Steinhart, was present but did not vote. Several members said some of the offices are the only ones in rural counties and serve low-income people who would unfairly shoulder the burden of having to drive long distances to a neighboring county’s driver’s license office.
“If we are going to require the public to do something, the onus is on us to make sure that we provide the most efficient system for them, the public, in having to comply with our requirements,” said state Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood.
There are over 200 driver’s license offices. In some cases, applicants can renew their licenses online or on the phone. But many Texas drivers are required to visit a driver’s license office in person, including those with licenses that have been expired for more than two years and applicants over 79 or under 18.