Now a Driver License’s Status Can Be Checked On-Line
CONTACT: Robert Sanchez
Public Information Administrator
June 21, 2002
TALLAHASSEE—Not often does a private business or a government agency get a chance to cut costs while simultaneously improving its customer service. Even less common is the chance to save more than $1 million a year by investing $15,000 once.
Fortunately, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles was able to achieve those goals, thanks to recent advances in computer technology. Result: an enhanced version of the Department’s popular "on-line driver license status check."
Is a driver license valid? If not, why not? And if there’s a problem, what can be done to solve it? The Website – www.flhsmv.gov -- provides answers.
For drivers, insurers, rental car companies, employers, and others who need to know whether a license is valid, this free service is much more convenient than other methods of checking a license’s status. It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s faster than correspondence. And it eliminates the need for a long-distance phone call or a visit to a busy driver license office or tax collector’s office.
For the Department, meanwhile, the newly enhanced Website offers real savings. It already attracts upwards of 16,000 "hits" a week. Many of those inquiries would have gone to the Department’s Customer Service Center call-takers but for the Website.
Those call-takers can handle some driver-license inquiries in a minute or less. For instance, many customers who have previously called about a license suspension and have taken steps to get their license back continue to call until they know it’s cleared. Now, though, many of those "call-back customers" can do their checking on the Website.
Yet many other phone call inquiries can't be properly handled in a minute or less. Indeed, some calls deal with complex problems that require extensive research. The Customer Service Center on average handles about 15,500 calls each week. So to handle an additional 16,000 calls a week, the agency might need to almost double the current staff size. In salaries, benefits and training expenses alone, that would easily cost more than $1 million a year.
Letting the Website handle routine inquiries about a driver license’s status provides an additional customer-service dividend: It frees the Department’s call-takers to devote the time required for more thorough research into the more complicated problems.
License problems are much more common than most drivers realize. Last year in Florida, for instance, there were 1,224,562 suspensions, 84,279 revocations, and 15,188 cancellations. Most of the suspensions were the result of unpaid traffic tickets and lapses in insurance coverage. The enhanced Website tells what to do about the traffic tickets and whom to call concerning the insurance problems.
Some drivers first become aware that their own license is suspended when they’re stopped by police for a traffic law infraction. Others discover it when they attempt to use their driver license as an ID to cash a check or use a credit card. Still others learn of the suspension when they’re stopped at a DUI checkpoint or an airport.
Some may wonder, "Since the Department is required to send out a notice of its intent to suspend a license, how can a driver not know that a license is suspended?"
It’s simple: Neglect. The same inattention that may allow one’s car insurance to lapse or a traffic ticket to remain tucked away in a car’s glove compartment may also cause the driver to fail to notify the Department of his change of address, as required by law. Result: The suspension notice may go astray.
The enhanced driver license status check is just one of the Department’s ventures into "e-government." The agency’s Website, www.flhsmv.gov, offers helpful information on driver licensing, vehicle registration, specialty license plates, office locations, and other topics.
In addition, eligible motorists may use the Website’s "Express Lane" feature to renew their driver license, report a change of address, and renew their vehicle registrations. That feature can be accessed at the above Website or by going to www.MyFlorida.com and clicking on "Driver’s License Renewal".
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