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Since we renew and replace Alabama driver licenses and photo identification (ID) cards, we obviously get many questions about the requirements.
Probate offices can renew existing, replace lost or stolen, and update certain items (boating, address changes, name changes, etc.) as applicable to either the license or ID cards. Probate offices cannot issue (first-time) driver licenses or ID cards except in one instance.
Following COVID-19, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) did make an exception to allow us to issue first-time driver licenses to students who had their driver’s education certificate. When we issue their license, we are required to maintain their original certificate in our office; we cannot return it to the student.
Ever heard the old saying, “nothing is free”? There are many fees established by the State of Alabama applicable to modifications to a driver license or ID card. One fee is the “replacement or re-issuance” fee. Any re-issue/replacement for any reason has this minimum fee ($31.25) plus any other required fees as applicable.
There are many changes/updates to driver licenses that only ALEA may do. ALEA is the only authorized agent to convert (to regular driver licenses) or add hazardous material endorsements to Commercial Driver Licenses (CDLs).
ALEA is the sole agent to change out-of-state driver license to an Alabama driver license. ALEA is the only agency that can issue the STAR (Secure, Trusted And Reliable) ID/driver license. Probate offices can normally renew the STAR ID/driver license.
Many of the questions we receive revolve around the STAR ID. “STAR ID” refers to driver licenses, as well as ID cards, because people use their driver license as their photo ID. Due to the terrorists’ acts committed against the United States, Congress passed the REAL-ID Act of 2005.
This act modified/established federal laws pertaining to security, authentication and issuance standards for state driver licenses and identification cards. To comply with the requirements of this federal legislation, the Alabama Department of Public Safety developed the STAR ID program in 2011 and began issuing the STAR ID statewide in early 2012.
The STAR ID requirements date has been adjusted many times since the act went into effect. The new date for domestic flights to require the STAR ID or a passport is May 3, 2023. Some military installations and federal office buildings now require the STAR ID for access.
In making your decision about getting the STAR ID, you may see a complete list of acceptable forms of ID or documents for airline travel by visiting the Transportation Security Administration website at www.tsa.gov and then going to the REAL ID tab.
The STAR ID has a gold star in the upper left corner to make it readily identifiable as compliant with the REAL ID Act of 2005.
To obtain a STAR ID there are three categories that the applicant must provide proof of information. The applicant must: (1) Verify their identity and date of birth, (2) verify their Social Security number, and (3) verify their current address of principle residence by providing two documents with their name and address on them.
There are several types of documents that can be used to provide the verification in each of the categories. For the acceptable documents in each category, visit the www.alea.gov website and click on the large “STAR ID” tab.
Another change to driver licensing and ID card renewals is the new licensing and ID system (Law Enforcement Agency Driver System – LEADS) rolled out on April 26 of this year. This new system replaced the old system that was used for more than 20 years.
All the equipment was replaced, and a completely new software system was implemented. The rollout and implementation for the Coosa County Probate Office have gone very smoothly with only minor glitches. ALEA did an excellent job visiting the counties and listening to us regarding problems with the old system and equipment and to our various needs.
However, stop and think for a moment where technology has taken us over the last few years. All the things you can now do with a cell phone; tracking you in your travels, providing directions, using your phone to pay at the grocery store, etc.
Technology is grand, but it comes with a price. The same applies to our new driver licensing system. Customers need to be aware that LEADS is connected with many state and federal agencies and uses advanced facial recognition software to make sure the person getting the driver license or ID card is who he/she is supposed to be. During the first complete cycle (four-year renewal cycle), issues are going to arise that some customers may have to resolve at an ALEA office.
As we go through the transition, we see issues when citizens attempt to renew their driver license or Alabama ID card. For some, we can resolve the issue in the system or with a phone call to ALEA.
However, for some issues the customer must see an ALEA representative to get their issue(s) resolved. Some of those type issues are the customer had a driver license and an Alabama ID issued at some point, had multiple licenses at some point, their Social Security name and driver license name does not match exactly, their driver’s education certification not updated in the system, a name change (i.e. person was married after the STAR ID or license was issued) on the first-time renewal of the STAR ID, most issues with CDLs, and some issues with vessel licensing. Obviously, this list is not inclusive, but it provides an example of what we have seen to date.
If someone must see an ALEA representative to have an issue resolved, the ALEA examiners are in Rockford every Tuesday. They are located in the building next to the Post Office.
Of course, customers can go to any ALEA examining office in the state or to one of the larger counties where ALEA licensing offices are open Monday through Friday. Most of our customers tell us they will wait until Tuesday and come to Rockford.
Although in rare cases LEADS may present an issue/problem for the customer to resolve, many services are now provided online. For example, LEADS online customers can now update their addresses, pay and reinstate their licenses, upload Department of Transportation medical cards, and add emergency contacts to their driver licenses.
If you are visiting the Coosa County Probate Office to renew your license or ID card, although an appointment is not required, you may make an appointment if you wish to do so. You can make an appointment by calling us or going online at www.coosacountyal.com/probate-judge and then clicking the “Online Appointments” link in the right column.
I hope you find this information useful, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us. Until next month, stay safe.