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Illinois Reopens Driver Services Facilities For In-Person Business After Three-Week COVID Hiatus

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Who would ever thought we'd be happy to say you can head to the DMV? The Illinois Secretary of State's office on Monday reopened its driver services facilities for in-person business, after they were closed to start the new year due to the Omicron surge of COVID-19 cases statewide.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's office first closed its Driver Services facilities and other offices on Jan. 3 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases statewide. Those offices originally were supposed to reopen on Jan. 17, but were kept closed an extra week as COVID-19 cases continued to surge.

With cases now on the decline across Illinois, White's office has reopened all Driver Services facilities for in-person business, including license renewals, license plate stickers, and more.

As CBS 2's Meredith Barack reported, there was a long line Monday at the Driver Service facility at 4642 W. Diversey Ave. in Kelvyn Park – stretching several storefronts beyond the facility itself.

But those in line said it was worth the wait in the cold and snow - as they needed to get their hands on new IDs.

"I lost my license last night, and it was expiring anyway," said Colleen Mueller. "So I took a chance that it was open and drove out here."

Colleen Mueller says she was glad the facility reopened and allowed her to get that new driver's license.
She waited in line for about 30 minutes, and then was in and out fairly quickly.

"Really nice people, and they go as fast as they can," Mueller said.

This was not the first time the facilities were shut down during the pandemic. In March of 2020, the Illinois Secretary of State announced all of its locations would close due to COVID.

They reopened months later in June, only to close again in November. They reopened yet again in January of 2021.

Then at the beginning of this year, centers shut down for what was supposed to be two weeks, with plans to reopen on Jan. 18. But that had to be pushed back due to the jump in COVID cases.

Larnie Brewer said he had been waiting for services to resume.

"Because they closed down, and I guess today is the first day they're opening back - so this is really a blessing," Brewer said.

Brewer was bundled up, snack in hand, ready to wait in a line he thought would be much longer the one he encountered.

"I'm out here today trying to obtain my state ID so I can go job hunting," Brewer said.

He obtained hat card in less than an hour from when we talked to him - the ticket to a new beginning.

"It's absolutely wonderful," Brewer said. "It's really a blessing because it's hard times right now, you know."

While facilities are open again, drivers are still encouraged to use the Secretary of State's website for many transactions.

Eligible drivers will still be able to visit the Secretary of State's website to renew their vehicle stickers, obtain a duplicate driver's license or ID, or obtain their driving record. Eligible people can also renew their driver's license or state ID online, and can call 217-785-1424 to confirm their eligibility or obtain their PIN.

While all Illinois Driver Services centers are now open, many of them require an appointment to limit crowding. For a full list of Driver Services facilities statewide, click here.

The state has already extended the expiration dates for expired driver's licenses and ID cards through March 31, 2022, so drivers with expired licenses don't need to rush out to get them renewed in-person if they're not eligible to renew online. The extension does not apply to commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) or CDL learner's permits.

As a reminder, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the federal REAL ID deadline to May 3, 2023. After that point, travelers will need either a REAL ID card, passport, or other acceptable form of ID for airline travel. The TSA provides a list of acceptable IDs online.

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