Friday, January 5, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 5, 2001

Requests for driver's license exchange rampant

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

So many people want to exchange their driver’s licenses for ones that don’t list their Social Security numbers that a mad rush at driver’s license renewal sites since Tuesday is clogging up Honolulu’s computer system.

The demand has been so overwhelming that the message from city officials yesterday was: Everyone can eventually get a new driver’s license. Just don’t come in all at once.

A new state law that no longer requires Social Security numbers to be listed took effect New Year’s Day. The change was made to help prevent the alarming rise of identity theft. Instead of the nine-digit Social Security number, a random eight-digit number preceded by the letter "H" is listed.

Driver’s license renewal sites in Kaneohe, Pearl City, Wahiawa, Waianae and Kalihi have been packed with people wanting to exchange their licenses, said city Customer Services Director Carol Costa.

"The new computer program that gives out (new) random ID numbers is slowing down our other city-related computer programs because of the high demand," she said.

The computer slowdown and long lines are also affecting customer service. Issuing a duplicate driver’s license previously took 2 to 3 minutes at a service counter. The wait is now 10 to 15 minutes, Costa said.

Changing a driver’s license is not mandatory, and drivers can wait until their license renewal date, when a new number will be assigned automatically, said Dennis Kamimura, Licensing and Permits Division administrator.

Driver’s license renewals also can be made at the Fort Street and Windward Mall satellite city halls. The Windward Mall site also is open on Saturdays.

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