Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia to Smooth Route for Drivers Department Unifies Motor Vehicle Issues

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia to Smooth Route for Drivers Department Unifies Motor Vehicle Issues

Article excerpt

Byline: Doug Gross, Times-Union staff writer

ATLANTA -- A new motor vehicles department in state government may translate into shorter lines and fewer headaches at driver's license and car tag offices.

In September, the newly created Department of Motor Vehicle Safety is expected to begin work.

The department, headquartered in suburban Conyers east of Atlanta, will pull together various driving and highway safety functions that have been scattered among several departments and agencies. The result, officials say, will be more attention to fixing the staffing and paperwork problems that sometimes frustrate Georgia drivers.

"Our sole mission in life is to manage these operations better,'' said Tim Burgess, commissioner of the new department. "Obviously, those things now will be our top priority.''

Until now, motor vehicle issues have been handled by at least four different state agencies.

Driver's licenses come from the Department of Public Safety. Tags and titles are issued by the Department of Revenue. The Public Service Commission operates the weigh stations along Georgia's highways, enforcing trucking laws along with the Department of Transportation.

The result, officials say, has been a lack of communication between departments and sometimes inefficient service to Georgia's drivers.

"The reality is that we should have done this years ago,'' said state Rep. Bobby Parham, D-Milledgeville, chairman of the House Motor Vehicles Committee. "I've been trying to get it done for going on 10 years now."

Georgia is one of only a handful of states nationwide without a specific motor vehicles department.

Parham said that placing oversight of car tags and titles with the Department of Revenue -- which is responsible for collecting all state taxes -- was a particularly poor fit.

"It was kind of the red-headed stepchild,'' Parham said. "Revenue never really did feel they should have it and never did fund it, to me, the way it ought to be funded.''

Drivers groups say they favor any change that will make the process of getting motorists on the road less frustrating.

"Based on our understanding, it's going to improve the efficiency of all the departments and make it easier on the motorist to get their driver's license renewed, get their registration, etc.,'' said Ted Allred, a vice president of AAA Auto Club South. …

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