• 72°

County driver’s license office slated to close

Come Oct. 1, first-time drivers will have to travel a little farther to receive their driver’s licenses.

Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier announced Friday that Butler County’s driver license office is among the 33 offices that will be closed Oct. 1 if lawmakers don’t provide level funding for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

The proposed plan calls for closing the 33 field offices on Oct. 1. Then, on Jan. 1, district offices will close leaving only 12 offices open statewide, and on March 1, all operations will be moved to Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile.

The Butler County Probate Office will continue to provide renewal and replacement of driver’s licenses, but new licenses or licenses that need to be reinstated will have to be issued by an office out of the county.

“It is my understanding that the only office affected by this will be the one in the old health department building where driver’s tests and new licenses are issued,” said Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman. “This will obviously be a burden on 15 and 16 year olds and their parents, and also on anyone moving from out of state that has never had an Alabama driver’s license. We will continue to do renewals in our office.”

The driver’s license offices in Luverne, Hayneville, Brewton and Camden are also slated to be closed during the first phase of closures.

“Currently, ALEA maintains 75 driver’s license district and field offices across the state, but budget allocations do not cover costs and we operate with an $8.2 million deficit,” said Collier. “During the 2015 regular session and first special session, the Legislature proposed General Fund budget cuts ranging from a 22 percent to 47 percent cut from ALEA’s fiscal year 2015 appropriation. Should the Legislature pass devastating budget cuts, it will be necessary for the Licensing Division to close driver’s license district and field offices statewide.”

Collier said the looming budget crises in government services are creating a “statewide problem.”
“Public safety is the core mission of state government,” Collier said. “We are facing a looming budget crisis in government services and this is a statewide problem that will affect each of us. Gov. Bentley’s solution is an easy, workable and fair proposal that will raise $300 million in revenue and help the state continue to provide these services to Alabama citizens.”

After failing to resolve the budget crisis during the most recent special session, lawmakers are expected to be called back to Montgomery to address the issue prior to Oct. 1.