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Tennessee driver's license facilities crippled by computer outage

Joel Ebert, Nashville TennesseanPublished 1:43 p.m. CT Dec. 16, 2019 | Updated 5:25 p.m. CT Dec. 16, 2019

For the second time in two months, Tennessee's driver's license centers were crippled by a computer-system outage that lasted hours. 

The latest outage was reported early Monday afternoon and affected all 44 state-run driver's license facilities throughout Tennessee. 

The service outage comes at a time when Tennessee, like many other states, is already struggling to meet the demands of residents who want get a REAL ID

REAL ID is a federal mandate that requires state residents to obtain a higher security ID by October 2020 to fly on a commercial flight or visit federal facilities. Passports will also be an acceptable form of identification for flying. 

Safety@TNDeptofSafety SERVICE OUTAGE: There is currently a statewide service outage for all driver services. The technical support team is working to resolve the issue and we will update when the system is back up. We apologize for any inconvenience. 51:13 PM - Dec 16, 2019 Twitter

See TN Dept. of Safety's other Tweets

Wes Moster, a spokesman for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, which oversees driver's license services, said at 2 p.m. a technical support team had been "working to address and resolve the issue as quickly as possible."

Moster said the agency was notified about the outage around 12:30 p.m.  

At 4 p.m. the outage had still been ongoing. Moster said shortly after 5 p.m. services had been fully restored and transactions were being processed in the central time zone. 

Asked if any of the outages could continue on Tuesday, he said, "We expect to be fully functional when business hours resume in the morning." 

Monday's outage is at least the second system crash at the state's driver's license facilities since Oct. 21, when a failed software update occurred. That outage lasted several hours, causing frustration and long lines throughout the state. 

In recent months, Tennessee's driver's license facilities have struggled with technology problems and an influx of residents utilizing them.

The state is working to convince county clerks to process residents' applications, hired new employees, considered partnering with private companies and looked at actions taken in other states.  

Although state officials are optimistic their latest moves will be adequate, Monday's computer outage will likely lead lawmakers to ask another round of questions. Officials from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security are set to appear in front of the House budget committee on Thursday. 

When officials appeared in front of a legislative committee in October, Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, called the agency's assessment of wait times "bs."

Reach Joel Ebert at or 615-772-1681 and on Twitter @joelebert29.


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