Question: I don’t understand why Hawaii can’t renew driver’s licenses online. Other states already do this. Rather than telling people to keep trying to make an appointment, they could do something to serve the public! It’s not even innovative or groundbreaking. As I said, a lot of states already do it!
Answer: We continue to hear from many readers who are frustrated by their inability to get a timely appointment to renew their Hawaii driver’s license in person, as is required for most licensed drivers in Honolulu County. The exception is drivers 72 and older whose REAL ID documents already are on file; they may renew by mail if they also meet other eligibility requirements and follow precise instructions (see 808ne.ws/72up). However, we hear from many of those folks, too, saying that the mail-in renewal process can be slow or unresponsive.
Although the Department of Customer Services has said it is trying to free up more driver’s license appointments on the AlohaQ system (alohaq.org), we hear continuously from readers who find no appointments available or that the soonest one occurs after their license’s stated expiration date. The governor’s automatic extension of expiration dates (currently through April 13) for Hawaii driver’s licenses and state IDs is no consolation for these readers, who say that while the proclamation will save them a traffic ticket for driving with an expired license in Hawaii, it’s no guarantee in other circumstances — completing tasks online, conducting business or traveling outside Hawaii — that require them to present a valid ID. Some readers succeed in reaching Honolulu County’s driver’s license office at 768-9100 to request emergency service, while others said they’ve reached out to elected officials for help navigating the system. All in all, they describe exerting great effort to fulfill the government’s requirements.
Bottom line: A growing number of Hawaii motorists seem to be demanding better customer service and want to renew their licenses online. As you and others have told us, online renewal is widely available in other states, when the renewal is for a federally compliant (REAL ID) license issued by that state. To name just a few examples, California driver’s license holders can generally renew online if their current license is REAL ID-compliant and their address and personal description have not changed (dmv.ca.gov); Georgia driver’s license holders ages 18 to 63 can generally renew online or via a mobile app if their current license is REAL ID-compliant (dds.georgia.gov); and Washington state encourages its licensed drivers to renew online, up to a year ahead of expiration (dol.wa.gov).
In Hawaii there is a bill pending in the Legislature that would allow the state Department of Transportation to adopt emergency rules to allow the renewal of Hawaii driver’s licenses by mail or online. To read the measure and testimony about it, go to capitol.hawaii. gov and look up HB 273 in the search box marked Bill Status/Measure Status.
The DOT submitted testimony saying it supports the bill but has some concerns, noting that certain applicants already may renew by mail (but not online) and that neither process (mail or online) would apply to Hawaii drivers seeking a REAL ID-compliant (gold star) license for the first time. First-time “gold star” applicants must initially appear in person. We didn’t see any testimony submitted by Honolulu County’s Department of Customer Services, which would administer whatever online service emerges if the bill is signed into law. However, administrators have previously said they’d like to provide online renewal if allowed by law.
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.