Local tag and title businesses to now issue driver's licenses
PRESCOTT - Fifteen-year-old Miah Devine leapt from her seat after she passed a retest for her driver's license permit on Monday morning, June 1, the first to do so at FooteWork Auto License & Title Services.
From start to finish, Miah and her mother, Heidi Dowland, spent less than an hour inside the business at 201 Grove Avenue on the first day it was officially able to issue drivers' licenses and permits. Indeed, FooteWork became the 15th third party provider in the state to offer this service.
Prescott Valley's Arizona Tags & Title, 8307 E. State Road 69, Suite A, was the second private business in this region to earn similar state authorization on Monday, June 1.
Miah's jubilation might have proved more muted on Monday without FooteWork's efforts as she likely would have been waiting in line at the state Department of Motor Vehicles office. A week ago, she and her mother spent two hours to take her first permit test.
Even with a $34 convenience fee above the state permit fee of $7, Dowland considered it a deal. Other license-related convenience fees range from $22 to $27.
Arizona Tags & Title intends to offer a $10 opening convenience fee for its licenses, but owner Anton Teschner said he expects that will increase to $25. He said he wants to gauge customer reaction before he sets the final fee. On Monday, state DOT officials were working to get the office equipment operational so they could begin processing the licenses.
Teschner said he has had a steady stream of customer requests ever since it was announced that the business would soon be able to issue driver's licenses.
"It's awesome, perfect. Such a convenience,' Dowland said of this third-party service availability. "A lot less headache.'
FooteWork held a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception Monday, June 1, a celebration of what for owner Ken Foote has been a 12-year journey to get permission to expand the title and registration business to include drivers' licenses.
Foote said he first opened his business in 1998, and applied to do driver's licenses in 2003.
"It's this great or what?" declared State Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, a champion of the legislation.
A proponent of privatization, Fann said this move required more than a decade of teamwork between business owners, state transportation officials and lawmakers.
"This is a step in the right direction,' Fann said. "This helps private business flourish even as it relieves a burden on the state.'
Privatization can help free up state dollars for such things as education and infrastructure, as well as lower taxes, Fann said.
"Government should do only what private enterprise cannot do for itself," Fann said.
ADOT Program Manager Robert Smith said this is a natural expansion of the state's third party provider program that benefits residents, the state and private commerce. For 22 years, the state has offered this for other motor vehicle services, generating some $347 million in state revenue.
Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall was equally enthusiastic.
"It's certainly another convenience for the citizens of the greater Prescott area,' Kuykendall said, noting it is a testament to FooteWork's "patience and fortitude." "This exemplifies what the private sector can do given the opportunity and the tools.
"It's a great day for Prescott."
Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041, or 928-642-6809.