Oahu driver licensing centers are open, but by appointment only

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 5:26 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu licensing centers are reopened and welcoming customers back, but one thing that’s not returning: Walking in and waiting.

If you need a new driver’s license or have to renew an old one, an appointment is now a requirement.

The changes went into effect last week to help with social distancing.

Traditionally, the whole process has a reputation of being a hassle. But Lisa Tam admits she was surprised how quickly she got in front of a clerk to renew her license Thursday.

Tam said “I think that’s everything” as she slid several papers through a new partition.

Sheri Kajiwara, the head of Honolulu’s Department of Customer Services, says the pandemic forced licensing centers to readjust their entire operation.

“It’s a big change from the all day wait,” she said.

Appointments can be made online. Customers are asked to arrive 15 minutes prior. Any earlier and you’ll have to wait in your car.

Kajiwara said, “There are no chairs here because there’s no need to sit.”

Masks are required. So is social distancing.

As an added precaution windows, are cleaned between every customer.

Since reopening May 26, the focus is on setting up appointments for people with the greatest need.

“We are opening our doors to anyone who has an expired license between March and July,” said Kajiwara. “At the end of July we’ll open our doors to everyone.”

There are exceptions for people who may need their license renewed for work, medical or legal reasons.

Kajiwara said, “If people have a special need and it doesn’t meet the parameters that we are currently serving they can call 768-4177.”

In the meantime, all road tests are still on hold while the state creates new guidelines that will need union approval. Kajiwara anticipates tests will resume soon.

“I’m hoping sometime this month or early next month," she said.

For now, Kajiwara says anything that can be done online, at a kiosk or through the mail should not be done in person.

For those who need to see a clerk, double check you have all your documents in order before you come.

Clerks are conducting about 650 appointments a day. On average, each one takes between six and eight minutes.

On Thursday, Tam was out the door in under 10 minutes.

“Wow that was fast,” she said. “A very, very good experience.”

A reminder, you don’t need a Hawaii license to register to vote. You can do so by signing up online at the Office of Elections.

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