Sheriff Bartlett: ITD computer issues are the source of delays at Driver’s License office

If any of you went to our Driver’s License office at 400 N. Benjamin Lane this past year or so and have been frustrated about long wait times, I understand.

That’s because I am just as frustrated as you are.

It’s particularly vexing because we have an excellent Driver’s License staff that can’t serve you to the best of their abilities — because the Idaho Transportation Department has ongoing issues with their computer systems and software.

Idaho Code requires the sheriff’s office in all 44 counties to operate a driver’s license office for the ITD. We administer their system – including hiring employees and finding office space. The ITD runs the computer system and issue the licenses.

There isn’t anything we can do when the ITD’s computer system doesn’t work.

Consider what happened this morning. Our office was fully staffed and ready to go – but the ITD system wasn’t.

The crowd of customers kept growing. Some people left. Some decided to stay and to hope for the best. Patience was tested. Tempers flared. At the time I’m writing this (2:30 p.m.), the system is still down.

This is a scene that has played out dozens of times over the last two years

Every time it happens, everyone in the room feels the same way. Our staff is just as frustrated as you are.

We’ve made several improvements to increase customer service at the Benjamin Lane office. We added six more clerk stations to increase the number form 15 to 21. We’ve extended our hours of operation by 30 minutes at the beginning and end of each day. We’re now open 7:30 a.m.-to-5:30 p.m.

We would like to be open on Saturdays — and to extend our daily hours even more than we already have. We would do that right now if we could.

The ITD has resisted those efforts. They told us they need that downtime for their computer system.

We are also considering opening up additional driver’s license offices in other parts of Ada County, but that can’t happen until ITD gets their computer system worked out. We could have offices on every corner in town, open six days a week, and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference if the ITD system isn’t working.

When it does work, it takes our clerks about six minutes to take care of a customer who needs to renew their driver’s license. Unfortunately, there have been many instances over the past few years our staff hasn’t been given the opportunity to do their best work.

Earlier this month, every one of Idaho’s 44 counties closed their Drivers License office for two days so the ITD could install a new statewide computer system that was supposed to solve their problems. We used that time to train our staff on the new system.

The moment our office re-opened Aug. 13, our staff was trained and ready to go.

The new ITD computer system was not. From the get-go, glitches/system errors caused long delays — and resulted in some very frustrated customers ever since.

It’s not just Ada County. There have been reports of lengthy delays at sheriff’s offices all over Idaho. It’s more pronounced here in Ada County because we have so many more people.

It’s been so bad that the Idaho Sheriff’s Association sent a letter to Idaho Governor Butch Otter last week detailing how the sheriffs of Idaho’s 44 counties are taking the brunt of complaints that should be directed towards the ITD.

We’ve had some people ask why ITD doesn’t go back to their old system. That system was old and broken. Going back to that wouldn’t solve any of their issues. The only way to go is forward.

My great hope is that the new ITD computer systems gets back to 100 percent and our employees can concentrate on what they do best, which is providing excellent and timely service for the people of Ada County.

In the meantime, please check our Twitter account at @AdaCoSheriff or call (208) 577-3100 to find out if we are experiencing delays before heading to our office on Benjamin Lane. If you want to contact ITD about your experiences, call (208) 334-8000 or send them a message at https://apps.itd.idaho.gov/Apps/WebCommentsV2/

 

– Sheriff Steve Bartlett

Here’s a quick Idaho Code lesson: motorized bicycles are not allowed in dedicated bike lanes

Did you know that riding a bicycle with a motor in a dedicated bike lane — or on a sidewalk — is against the law in Idaho?

Did you also know that motorized bikes need a stoplight, taillight, and a horn? If they don’t have those items, motorized bikes are not street legal. And it’s not just those three items. For a complete list of what is needed for a motorized bicycle to be legal, check out http://www.itd.idaho.gov/dmv/driverservices/documents/motorcycle_manual.pdf

We were recently contacted by a member of the public on our ACSO Twitter (@AdaCoSheriff) asking for clarity on what the rules were for bikes with a motor.

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If you want to do a deep dive, check out Idaho Code 49-114 (http://legislature.idaho.gov/idstat/Title49/T49CH1SECT49-114.htm).

We’ll stick to the main points here. One thing motorized cyclists do not need to be street legal is to have a driver’s license or insurance.

The main point is this. Once someone puts a motor on a bike, it is becomes just like a motorcycle, scooter, or moped — when the motor is on. That means they are just like a car or any other motorized vehicle and must follow all regular traffic rules.

If the motor is on and the cyclist is still pedaling, that doesn’t matter. It’s still a motorized vehicle.

The only way such vehicles can be legally in a dedicated bike lane is if the cyclist has turned the motor off and is pedaling.

If cyclists use a motor and are in a dedicated bike lane, they risk getting a ticket. If they do not have the legally required equipment, they risk getting a ticket.