KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security has added another option for citizens seeking to renew or replace their driver licenses.
Commissioner Bill Gibbons announced Wednesday that the Driver Services Division has installed 30 self-service driver license kiosks at various locations across Tennessee.
Two opened in East Tennessee on Wednesday, and officials were in West Knoxville to show off one of the new machines.
The new self-service kiosk installed by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security is located at the AAA branch in West Knoxville.
Another kiosk has been installed at the Knox County Driver Service Center in Strawberry Plains.
Future kiosks will be installed at places like AAA branches and local government offices. Officials hope the technology will improve efficiency at driver's centers.
"I think it's going to be a real asset and a real plus for citizens, so they don't have to go to a driver's center and wait in line for a long period of time," Gibbons said.
Gibbons said the ultimate goal is to provide better customer service and reduce the average wait time in driver service centers to no more than 20 minutes.
Citizens may renew or replace an existing driver license or state identification card and pay for the transaction with a credit or debit card at the kiosks. The technology takes citizens' photographs for use on the driver licenses.
As a security measure, the kiosks perform facial verification with the image on record. The citizen leaves the kiosk with a paper interim document for use until the secure driver license or ID card is received. The interim license is valid for 20 days.
The secure driver license or ID card is mailed to the applicant's home within five to seven business days.
A total of 40 self-service kiosks are scheduled to be installed and operating statewide by the end of February.
The department has partnered with various local governments and several AAA branches to provide alternate locations for the kiosks, providing more sites to complete simple renewal and duplicate services.
The West Knoxville AAA branch is one of three AAA locations in the state with the kiosks.
"We're delighted to be able to have these kiosks in our office, not only as a convenience to members, but the general public," said Tim Wright, the regional president of AAA Tennessee.
The kiosk at AAA is open to all members of the public, not just AAA members.
In the coming months, the department will begin using a central issuance process, in which driver licenses will be mailed from a central, secure location to the citizen's home.
Also, the department will soon use facial verification technology to help reduce fraudulent issuance of driver licenses and cut down on identity crimes cases.
The state first purchased three kiosks to use on a pilot basis using federal grant funds for a total of $165,000. The remaining 37 kiosks were purchased for $45,000 each, a total of $1,665,000, using state system development funds.
A complete list of all self-service kiosk locations can be found on the Department of Safety & Homeland Security website.