By NANCY COOK LAUER
New clerk positions on both sides of the island are aimed at reducing wait times for people seeking to obtain or renew driver’s licenses, state identification cards and vehicle registrations.
The permanent positions, one each at the Hilo licensing office and the West Hawaii Civic Center, will be funded by the state Department of Transportation, which has delegated issuing of state ID cards to the counties, said county Deputy Finance Director Deanna Sako.
The clerks will be paid in the range of $31,212 to $48,048 annually. Sako said the county is already in the process of filling the positions.
Approval of the positions is on the County Council Finance Committee agenda for 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Wait times for driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations got a lot longer about a year ago, when new laws were implemented requiring an array of documents to prove a person’s identity and legal presence in the United States. The laws caused confusion with residents, who were unaware they needed to prove identity, date of birth, legal presence in the United States and Social Security Number. People who’ve had name changes are also required to prove names through marriage certificates or the like.
“It’s an initiative of the Department of Homeland Security that the state chose to adopt to make licenses more meaningful,” Lee Lord, Hawaii County Department of Finance Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division manager, told Stephens Media last year. “We’re proving who you are by getting the official documents.”
Documents that can be used to verify legal presence include a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport. Foreign born applicants may provide other documents, such as a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, resident alien card, or a valid foreign passport with a visa and I-94, according to the division.
Documents presented for proof of identity, legal presence or Social Security Number must be valid originals or certified copies. Photocopies or fax copies of proof documents, as well as laminated items, are not acceptable.
Driver’s licensing and vehicle registration clerks share a single office in the West Hawaii Civic Center, while the duties in Hilo are split between the offices at Aupuni Center and the police station.
To avoid a lengthy wait, Lord suggested avoiding peak hours — when the offices open at 8 a.m. and during lunch hour. He noted Mondays following furlough Fridays can also be busy.
Lines were moving smoothly in Hilo on Wednesday morning, however.
Glenn Debonte of Hilo, one of a dozen or so in the Aupuni Center office, said he was in and out in just a few minutes.
“It was fast,” Debonte said. “It wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t too long at all.”
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.