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Online License Renewals/Appointments

Need that license? Try your computer

Want to avoid waiting in line all day at your local motor vehicles office? A phone call or a trip on the Web can get you a license or ID in less than an hour.

Going to a state motor vehicles office to get a driver's license, photo identification card or road test can drive people crazy.

Maria Mejia of Pembroke Pines got mad a few years ago when she went to her local office to get her license without an appointment.

Mejia was given a choice: leave and call to make an appointment, which would probably be in three weeks, or wait in line in the hot sun in case she got lucky and could be waited on.

Her turn came hours later, at 4 p.m. She had been waiting since 7 a.m. with no breakfast or lunch.

''I needed my license, so I took a chance and got lucky,'' she said of an appointment that was canceled two hours before the office was scheduled to close.

When Mejia returned recently with her 17-year-old daughter, Luz, she assumed that appointments were required for licenses, not for state identification cards.

She was wrong.

Luz was turned away.

But since it was a slow day -- with many last-minute cancellations -- Luz got lucky, too. She waited less than five minutes to get her state ID.

That is not a typical story.

Officials at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles say people should make appointments; some local offices, including those in Pembroke Pines and Pompano Beach, require them.

''We want to make the experience of going to a motor vehicles office as pleasant as possible,'' said Frank Penela, spokesman for the department in Tallahassee. ``If you make an appointment, you should be in and out of the office in less than an hour.''

But day after day, the same people who wouldn't dream of driving to the movies without checking showtimes show up at their local driver's license offices without an appointment.

Workers at the Pembroke Pines office say people argue daily over the appointment rule, wait for hours, or leave and go to offices in Fort Lauderdale, Margate, Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderdale Oakbrook or Deerfield Beach to wait.

Penela said there is a simple solution: People who had their license photo taken after Nov. 30, 1995 -- when the system went digital -- can renew their license online or through the mail.

''No need to come in if your photo is in the system already,'' he said.

''This isn't like Los Angeles, where you have lines around the block, tumbleweeds and skeletons waiting on line only to be told that they are standing in the wrong line,'' Penela said. ``We try to be a little advanced down here.''

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