Allen: No warning for driver’s license fee hike

Published 3:00 am Friday, February 13, 2015

Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen says he and his peers had no time to prepare the public for this week’s 54 percent increase in driver’s license renewal costs.

“I want to make sure the public understands I had no prior knowledge (of the planned rate increase),” Allen said Thursday. “I couldn’t let the public know because I didn’t know.”

Allen said he received an email at 7:50 p.m. Friday from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency notifying him that increased fees for driver’s license renewals would be coming on Monday, Feb. 9.

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“And at 8:45 a.m. Monday I received the new fee schedule, which took effect that day,” he said. “I communicated to ALEA my frustration at the way it was communicated to us.”

Probate offices throughout the state “basically function as vendors for the Alabama Department of Public Safety when it comes to renewals,” Allen said.

But, he said, that does little to soften the blows for Pike County drivers who now must pay $38.25 to renew their license for four years – a more than 50 percent increase from the prior cost of $25.20

“The fee outlined by the state is $36.25, but we have a $2 transaction fee that has been in place in Pike County since 2003, so the cost here is $38.25,” Allen said.

A spokesperson for ALEA told that the business model for driver licenses “simply wasn’t working,” explaining that the costs of issuing the license “far exceed” the fees charged to drivers.

Allen said he was told that the ALEA plans to use the fee increase to help recoup costs associated with replacing outdated equipment, hiring additional personnel and enhancing services to the public. “The ALEA email went on to say that, in addition they are looking at new ways to slash wait times and the length of lines.” One such move would be to allow online renewals, which could be available by 2016.

The costs for testing fees or issuance fees for non-driver identification cards for senior citizens or individuals with mental or physical disabilities remains the same.