Despite long lines, the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles is making efforts to reduce the amount of time residents spend in its offices. In fact, according to DMV Director Duane Bannock, the department is trying to make it easier for people to forgo a trip to the DMV altogether.
"Stay out of my office," Bannock told the Kenai Chamber of Commerce at its weekly luncheon at Paradisos Restaurant in Kenai on Wednesday.
Bannock, a former Kenai City Council member, said that when he took the job at DMV, his top priority was to get more work done online.
"We can do so many things with your DMV via the Internet," he said.
In addition to shifting such things as change-of-address forms and registration renewals to the Internet, Bannock said he's worked hard at reducing wait times for people who do have to stop by DMV offices.
"I want us to be able to say we are doing the best we can," he said.
He did note that summer is an extremely busy time at the DMV but said the department's internal tracking mechanism has shown that wait times are generally less than a half hour at the Kenai Peninsula's Kalifornsky Beach Road office.
"Ninety-three percent of all our customers have been served in less than 30 minutes," he said.
While at the chamber, Bannock also highlighted a couple innovations taking place at DMV, including a new program that allows military veterans to obtain personalized license plates that include a branch of service and even unit insignia.
"I like the fact that veterans want a (personalized) plate and they can show off their colors," he said.
Also Wednesday, Bannock unveiled the new Alaska drivers' licenses that will become standard for all drivers. The new licenses are quite different from current licenses and include a number of new security features, including two photos, a bar code, optical imaging technology and microprinting that makes them hard to duplicate, he said.
"It represents more security than Alaska has ever seen before," Bannock said of the new design.
In addition, licenses for drivers under 21 years of age will be printed vertically instead of horizontally, making them impossible to use by minors trying to purchase alcohol.
While at the chamber, Bannock who has been mentioned as a potential candidate to replace outgoing Kenai Mayor John Williams joked with the chamber crowd, unveiling a "Bannock for Mayor" poster he used during an unsuccessful mayoral run in 2001.
"I don't know how that got in there," he said.
Despite the mayoral talk, Bannock said after the meeting that he eventually would like to return to the area, but he has no immediate plans to leave his post at the DMV.
"I someday intend to come back to Kenai, and I still want to be mayor of Kenai," he said. "Just not right now."
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