Dakota County License Center adds same-day driver's license printing

When Kori Hack walked into the Dakota County License Center on Monday morning, she was expecting the same old Minnesota renewal experience.

"You get the yellow piece of paper, you get the corner cut off," she said, "and you sit by the mail for a week."

Instead, she wound up being one of the first in the state to get her standard driver’s license printed off right then and there and handed to her within minutes.

"That was great," she exclaimed as she compared her new license to the old one she had mailed to her a few years ago, noting they looked nearly identical.  "I had no idea they were doing this today, so it was a total surprise."

This license center at Heritage Library in Lakeville, along with one in Moorhead, are the two sites of a nine-month pilot project on printing same-day licenses, much like many other states have been doing for years.

"If all goes well, people find it to be of value, then we’re likely going to expand it across the state of Minnesota, so all folks can take part in it," said State Senator Zach Duckworth of Lakeville, one of the authors of the legislation that created this test.

The pilot project runs through next June, and there’s little doubt people will find the value in the convenience.  The test run is partly to work out any kinks and partly to explore how to roll it out to more license offices statewide.

"There’s still lots of questions about logistics on the funding and where and how we’re going to implement these at other locations," explained Pong Xiong, the director of the state’s Driver Vehicle Services Division. "But this is the starting point for us."

Part of the added cost is the printer used to make the licenses.  But much of the cost is the added security required to protect that printer as well as the card stock used for the licenses.  At Lakeville, security upgrades cost more than $70,000.

At many of the smaller, privately owned license locations across the state, such as those in strip malls, adding the needed security may require more extensive remodeling or perhaps a larger space.

It’s important to note that the immediate printing is only for standard driver's licenses and IDs, not for Enhanced and Real ID-compliant licenses.  Those will still be mailed out since those have even more layers of security built into the cards.

When Real ID requirements take effect in the spring of 2023, anyone with a standard license will need a passport to board a domestic flight or enter certain government buildings.

But for those getting a standard license, like Kori, who travels with a passport, the convenience is long overdue in Minnesota.

"I don’t think there’s much of a test," she said. "In my view, this is the way to go."