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story.lead_photo.caption Bledsoe

LITTLE ROCK -- During the first week it was available, about 600 Arkansans took advantage of a new online service to schedule the driving portion of their test to get a driver's license.

They were able to save time and avoid the uncertainty of waiting in line for the skills portion of the test at the nearest State Police office where tests are administered.

Legislators heard about the new feature during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Advanced Communication and Information Technology.

The committee was updated on broadband availability in rural areas and cybersecurity, and heard reports on data sharing between state agencies to improve efficiency in providing services. For example, streamlined data sharing can allow state offices that provide welfare to determine quickly whether an applicant receives unemployment insurance benefits and child support.

The committee heard from the general manager of the organization that operates inter-active services for numerous state agencies. Some of those online services require the user to pay a transaction fee, and some are free.

He reported that the State Police had initiated the feature of allowing people to schedule a driving test online, and he specifically described the frustrations of parents who wait for an hour or more with their teenaged children. The frustrations are worse if a lot of people show up on the same day, the time for taking the tests runs out and they have to come back another day.

"To put it mildly, the experience is not modern," he told the committee.

Now, people who have passed the written test can make a reservation online to take the driving test, using their smart phone or a personal computer. They can choose a date, a location and a time for taking the test, and they are given a reservation number.

Also, they will get a text or an email message reminding them of the appointment.

Based on past numbers of test takers, the new service could benefit 230,000 Arkansas residents this year. It will be a free service.

The State Police administer the tests for new drivers' licenses. People who have been driving for years and have to renew their licenses must visit or contact a Revenue Office, which is part of the Department of Finance and Administration.

As part of a nationwide effort to improve security, Arkansas is issuing "REAL ID" drivers' licenses and identity cards. They will be required for entrance on a domestic flight, or into a federal facility, by Oct. 1, 2020.

The purpose is to prevent terrorism and identity theft.

To get a REAL ID, you must prove your identity with a passport or birth certificate. You must prove your identity with a document such as driver's license, a concealed carry permit or a military ID. You must prove your Social Security number with an original card, a tax form or a pay stub. You must prove your address with utility bills and bank statements.

If your name has changed, you must provide linking documents such as a marriage certificate, a divorce decree or a court order.

The Arkansas DFA website has a list and a worksheet to help you gather the documents you need, before you go for a REAL ID driver's license at your local revenue office.

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Editor's note: Arkansas Sen. Cecile Bledsoe represents the third district. From Rogers, Sen. Bledsoe is chair of the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

Editorial on 02/12/2020

Print Headline: State offers on-line scheduling of driver's license test

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