COVID-19 Updates: Texas Closes Driver License Offices, Waives Expiration Dates

News is moving fast and furious right now, and a lot happens throughout the day. Here are some quick bullet points on what has happened in the past 24 hours.

Highland Park Suspends Municipal Court Sessions

The town of Highland Park announced March 18 that municipal court sessions are suspended until further notice. For more information, contact the municipal court at 214-559-9303.

Gov. Abbott Announces Temporary Closure of Driver License Offices

Gov. Greg Abbott March 18 announced that Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) driver license offices across the state are closing immediately. This temporary closure will not apply to those seeking an initial commercial driver license (CDL). DPS offices that provide CDL testing will remain open solely for the purpose of providing initial CDLs. Visits will be by appointment only, and can be scheduled by emailing cdlappointments[@]dps.texas.gov.

This announcement follows the Governor’s suspension of certain provisions of the Texas Transportation Code to delay the expiration date for driver licenses, commercial driver licenses, and other identification documents.

“Our commercial drivers are essential to the consistent flow of goods throughout the state, and we will continue to ensure those seeking an initial CDL can do so,” said Abbott. “Closing driver license offices to those not seeking an initial CDL is another step the state is taking to encourage social distancing in our communities.”

Though expiration dates have been temporarily suspended, individuals seeking to renew their driver license or personal identification certificate during this period should check the DPS website to see if they are eligible to renew online.

Gov. Abbott Directs DPS To Waive Expiration Dates For Driver’s Licenses

Gov. Abbott announced March 18 that he directed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to temporarily waive expiration dates for driver licenses, commercial driver licenses, and other identification forms. This action falls within the Governor’s State of Disaster Declaration and is part of the ongoing effort to reduce to spread of COVID-19.

“Our top priority remains public health and safety, and we will continue to take action to ensure that Texans can avoid large public gatherings,” said Abbott. “Texas is at a pivotal moment in the response to COVID-19, and by temporarily delaying driver license renewals we will help limit non-essential trips into public settings and slow the spread of this virus.”

This suspension will be in effect until 60 days after the DPS provides further public notice that normal driver license operations have resumed.

Gov. Abbott Issues Proclamation Allowing For Postponement Of Local Elections Set For May 2

Gov. Abbott March 18 issued a proclamation suspending provisions of the Texas Election Code to allow political subdivisions to postpone their 2020 local elections. This means local governments now have the ability to postpone their May 2, 2020 elections until November 3, 2020.

“I strongly encourage local election officials to take advantage of these waivers and postpone their elections until November,” said Abbott. “Right now, the state’s focus is responding to COVID-19 — including social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. By delaying this election, our local election officials can assist in that effort.”

Only political subdivisions have authority to postpone these elections, but the governor’s suspensions allow political subdivisions to postpone the elections and strongly encourages them to do so.

In conjunction with today’s action, Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs is releasing an election advisory providing guidance for political subdivisions on the process of postponing their May 2nd elections. Read the Texas Secretary of State’s Election Advisory.

Gov. Abbott Waives Certain Regulations To Allow Delivery Of Alcohol From Restaurants

Gov. Abbott March 18 issued a waiver that will allow restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages with food purchases to patrons, including beer, wine, and mixed drinks. The Governor also directed the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to waive certain provisions to allow manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of alcoholic beverages to repurchase or sell back unopened product.

“The state of Texas is committed to supporting retailers, restaurants, and their employees,” said Abbott. “These waivers will allow restaurants to provide enhanced delivery options to consumers during this temporary period of social distancing.”

Under this waiver, effective immediately, restaurants with a mixed beverage permit may sell beer, wine, or mixed drinks for delivery as long as they are accompanied by food purchased from the restaurant.

The buy-back waiver allows alcohol distributors and manufacturers to repurchase excess inventory from restaurants, bars, and clubs affected by event cancellations due to COVID-19.

Dallas County Tax Offices Closed to the Public for Face-to-Face Transactions Until Further Notice

Officials encourage customers to take advantage of processing their vehicle registrations and property tax payments online at www.dallascounty.org/tax

Dallas County citizens can renew their motor vehicle registrations online at www.dallascounty.org/tax. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) reportedly worked with Gov. Abbott to temporarily waive certain requirements for vehicle registration, vehicle titling and disabled parking placards. For more information, you can visit the TxDMV website at www.txdmv.gov

Dallas County citizens can pay property tax online with an e-check for no additional fees, at www.dallascounty.org/tax. They can also continue using their MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express credit and debit cards at the same site or pay property taxes by phone through JP Morgan Chase Bank at 866-863-8323 (English) or 866-361-1741 (Español). All credit and debit card transactions are subject to Chase Bank convenience fees. As always, you can mail your tax payments to P.O. Box 139066, Dallas, TX 75313.

The Dallas County Tax Office’s Customer Care Center is available to assist taxpayers with questions regarding property taxes, motor vehicle registrations and title concerns from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, at 214-653-7811.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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