Driver's license renewal nightmare - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Driver's license renewal nightmare

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

"I expected to go to the kiosk machine and immediately be able to renew my driver's license," said Agnes McDonald.

However, that did not happen for Agnes. Instead, renewing her driver's license turned into a legal nightmare. That's because Agnes goes by her middle name, maiden name and then her married name which is Agnes Grantham McDonald.

It's that three name combination she's used for 50 years, that appears on her social security records as well.

"When I get to the kiosk machine it says that the names don't match," said McDonald.

That's because her first name "Ella" was still on her drivers license and since it didn't match her social security records, this 70 year old was kicked out of the system by the Department of Public Safety, and so will any one else whose names don't match, leaving them with two options: go to court and legally change the name on your birth certificate, or change your name with the social security administration.

"I was a week away from my license running out and I thought how am I going to get this done," said McDonald.

"It's actually very common," said  Department of Public Safety spokesman Jon Kalahar.

Kalahar says the reason for the hang-up is the department's outdated information system being used, which he says only allows for one identity, as a way to protect against fraud.

"In the world that we live in right now with the technology people have to rip off your identity, rip off your name, it's something that we have as kind of a security feature that we have in place," said Kalahar.

Kalahar says the system is set to be upgraded in the Spring, to better deal with the problem, but until then folks like Agnes McDonald are left with those two options. Taking the faster route, she went to court and legally changed her name. Through records fees, attorney fees and court costs, it came with a price tag of about $400 before she had a new license in hand.

"Senior citizens in many instances would be blown out of the water if they found out this is what they were going to have to do and many would not renew their license as a result," said McDonald.

There's currently no notification system in place to let folks know their records don't match and most find out when they try and get a new license. The Department of Public Safety is recommending folks check their social security records and driver's license to make sure those names match.

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