The COVID-19 crisis has led to new constraints for driver’s license operations in Alabama, but folks who were pressing up on this year’s deadline to upgrade to a STAR ID are getting a reprieve.
As of March 26, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) closed all driver license offices, although staff members are answering phones and supporting online services, according to an ALEA news release. They were contacting people who had scheduled appointments to give them the news. According to the release, the closure means customers temporarily will no longer be able to:
- Obtain a first-time issuance of driver’s licenses (DLs), including commercial licenses (CDLs) or identification cards.
- Take knowledge tests, such as learner’s licenses, motorcycle licenses or CDLs.
- Take road tests.
- Transfer out-of-state licenses.
- Obtain foreign national renewals.
- Register vessels – first-time registrations or transfers.
- Obtain Ignition Interlock Licenses.
- Renew DLs, CDLs and IDs online.
- Renew by mail – for Alabama drivers out of state for military, employment, missionary work, under a physician’s care or other issues on a case-by-case basis.
- Request a hearing online or by mail or fax. No law enforcement actions will take place until the hearing can be held.
- Change address by mail, email or fax.
- Change name by mail or email.
- Renew hardship licenses.
- Have a license reinstated by mail, email or phone.
- Order a driver history by mail, email or phone.
- Order crash reports by mail, email or phone.
- Submit medical cards by fax or email.
- Submit medical unit forms by fax or email.
- Handle mandatory liability insurance online or by mail.
- Renew vessel registration online.
Before the coronavirus struck, Alabamians faced an Oct. 20 deadline to obtain the more-secure STAR ID if they wanted to use their driver’s license as identification to board domestic flights. Getting a STAR ID requires a visit to a driver’s license office and showing specific forms of personal identification and proof of address.
Because of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 26 extended by a year the federal REAL ID enforcement deadline to Oct. 1, 2021. STAR ID is Alabama’s version of REAL ID.
“As always, we are dedicated to serving the citizens of this state, but we must make the health and safety of our customers and our personnel a priority,” ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said. “This deadline extension should relieve some of the wait time at ALEA’s DL offices to obtain a STAR ID during the next several months.”
Federal motor carrier officials have granted an extension to people with expired CDLs, commercial learner’s permits and medical certifications. The waiver lasts until 11:59 p.m. on June 30 for CDL and permit holders whose paperwork expired on or after March 1. ALEA advised those who receive a notice of cancellation of commercial licenses or driving privileges in the coming days to disregard it. The agency announced it is granting an additional 120 days from the date of expiration to renew any CDL or commercial learner’s permit or to submit an updated medical certification. For a complete set of terms, conditions and restrictions, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For questions about medical certifications, contact ALEA’s CDL medical unit at 334-242-4400 and select option 4.
ALEA officials said after the driver’s license division resumes normal operations, customers will be able to schedule an appointment on the agency’s website to obtain a STAR ID and conduct other business. A date for operations to return to normal has not been set.
Taylor reminded Alabamians there is a 60-day grace period for driver’s license renewals, but he encouraged customers to renew online, if possible.
For the latest information from ALEA and details about STAR IDs, online renewals and other agency services, go to www.alea.gov.