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'It's appalling' | Driver's license appointments canceled again Thursday, fourth straight day

The statewide cancellations are due to the ongoing upgrade to the driver license system, which began Labor Day weekend.

SAN ANTONIO — The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) tested people's patience once again Wednesday. 

An upgrade to the state's driver's license system over Labor Day weekend caused computers to crash statewide, officials said.

KENS 5 spoke with frustrated drivers at the Texas Department of Public Safety's Driver License Mega Center Wednesday afternoon. People who showed up for their appointments got turned away without stepping foot inside the building.

Officials with DPS didn't share when operations will return as normal. They said Wednesday that driver's license center appointments from 7:30 a.m. to noon Thursday have also been canceled.

It will mark the fourth straight day of unhappy drivers across Texas.

"When is your system going to be up?" Rick, a San Antonio resident, asked a supervisor at the Mega Center Wednesday. "You don't know."

DPS canceled all driver's license appointments Wednesday due to the ongoing upgrade to the driver's license system. It's impacting all driver's license services, including renewing or replacing a license or ID card, getting a driver record and verifying eligibility.

Offices across the state as well as online services are impacted.

People are being turned away at the front door to driver license offices whether they had appointment or not. This followed a previous announcement by DPS Wednesday saying their driver's license system would be up and running after 12 p.m. They sent an alert canceling all Wednesday appointments around 10 a.m. 

"My driver's license is getting ready to expire in October," Rick told the supervisor. "I'm here. I got all my paperwork. If I get a ticket, who's paying for that?"

Rick says he drove 30 minutes to arrive at the center before closing time. Other drivers told us they drove from as far away as Castroville to try and schedule an appointment in-person.

When trying to schedule the earliest appointment possible, drivers tell us they either have to wait until late 2023, early 2024, or they're forced to drive to neighboring counties.

Many report having trouble making an appointment online as well as reaching anyone at the driver's license center over the phone.

"Are you guys gonna give me a waiver or something that I was here?" Rick asked center officials. 

It's a question many are asking: What happens if you get pulled over with an expired driver's license that you couldn't renew due to a cancellation?

For this problem out of customers' control, Texas DPS has yet to answer how it will be handled.

James Zawrotny, who tried to make an appointment in-person Wednesday, plans to try his luck later this week.

"They say come back," he explained. "I'm a driver and I need my license to drive. I drive with Amazon."

For others like Debbie Cohen, the clock is ticking.

"My driver's license is expired and I don't have any way of getting around if my husband isn't home. He's not home often, so it's been a trial and it's going to be a trial if we have to wait until February," Cohen explained.

Cohen's appointment was Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. She said she was able to reschedule a new appointment for next week.

If she tried to get a new confirmation number for a new appointment, she said she was told she'd have to wait until February 2024.

"It's appalling to me that it can't be better organized," said Cohen. "This should not be happening, even if your computers are down."

While DPS said customers are being notified of the cancellations by e-mail or phone, Cohen said she wasn't.

"I never got a phone call, I never got a text," she explained. "I never got an e-mail saying that the computers were down and don't bother coming."

DPS officials say they're working to identify the root of the issue. They said no security issues have been reported.

The agency tells KENS 5 they've been contacting customers who are impacted to give them priority in rescheduling a new appointment as soon as possible.

For the latest updates from DPS, visit dps.texas.gov/news.

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