A Georgia driver’s license is required within 30 days of establishing residency. For information on how to obtain a driver’s license call 678-413-8500.
You must provide your Social Security number, show proof of residency (utility bill, bank statement, rental contract) and bring a birth certificate, certified naturalization records, immigration ID card or valid passport. All driver’s license fees must be paid in cash, and exact change may be required.
Those with a valid out-of-state driver’s license are required to pass a vision test. An appointment isn’t necessary but can be scheduled in Marietta or Sandy Springs north Cobb, south DeKalb or Lithonia by calling 678-413-8500; select Option 3.
Driver’s license fee: $20 for a five-year license, $35 for a 10-year license. Eye exams are required for all first-time applicants and those 64 and older.
Minimum driving age: 16. Those under 18 must have held an instructional permit for one year and a day before getting a driver’s license and must show they have completed a state course on alcohol and drugs.
They also must provide proof that they are enrolled in school or have received a high school diploma or GED. A parent must certify the teen has driven at least 40 hours under his or her supervision, or 20 hours if he or she has taken an approved driver education course. Anyone with a learner’s permit who needs an on-the-road test must make an appointment by calling 678-413-8500; select Option 3.
Learner’s permit fee: $15
Minimum permit age: 15. All applicants under 18 must show a certified birth certificate or a valid passport and a certificate of school attendance, have a parent or legal guardian present, and pass a vision test and a written test.
To locate the nearest driver’s license office, see the government listings in the Atlanta Ultimate Guide or call the Georgia Department of Driver Services at 678-413-8500.
On the Web: www.dds.ga.gov.
. . . GET AROUND
Diamond shapes in the far left lanes of some interstates designate high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes. They are for vehicles with two or more people, motorcycles, emergency vehicles and vehicles with a certified alternative fuel license plate. HOV lanes and exits exist on parts of I-75/85 inside I-285, on I-85 between I-285 and Ga. 316, and on I-20 east of I-75/85.
Ga. 400, which connects with I-85 in north Atlanta, is the only toll road in metro Atlanta. The toll is $1 one way. If you use it frequently, you may want to get a Cruise Card, which is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield. The cost is $50, billed to a credit card. Cruise Card applications can be downloaded at www.georgiatolls.com or by calling the state Road and Tollway Authority’s administrative office at 404-893-6161.
For HERO (Highway Emergency Response Operator) assistance or updated traffic info, call *DOT or #DOT on most cellphones or 404-635-6800.
To report a drunken driver, call *GSP.
. . . GET AN EMISSIONS TEST
Cars and light trucks, model years 2002 through 2014 — with some exceptions — registered in 13 metro counties must pass an emissions test before owners can get new tags.
Emissions test cost: Up to $25 per test
Emissions test exemptions: The three most recent model years of every tag season are exempt. For the 2017 tag season, this includes all 2012 or newer models. Senior citizens’ vehicles can be exempted if three requirements are met: The vehicle is driven 5,000 miles or fewer annually; the car is at least 10 years old; and the owner is at least 65. Motorcycles and vehicles over 8,500 pounds are also exempt.
Emissions test locations: Model years 208-2012 can be tested at any location. Cars from 1995-2010 must be tested at stations with signs that read “all vehicles welcome.”
13-county testing area: Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale.
For more information: Call Georgia’s Clean Air Force at 1-800-449-2471 or go to www.cleanairforce.com.
. . . GET A VEHICLE TAG
A Georgia vehicle tag is required within 30 days of establishing residency. Tag fees can be paid in cash or by check. Some jurisdictions accept credit cards or debit cards for tag fees, but most do not, so find out before getting in line.
Tag fee: The fee for renewal includes a $30 tag fee for most passenger vehicles and lightweight pickup trucks and an ad valorem tax (property tax based on value of vehicle). The registration period is based on the birthday of the owner. There is a 30-day renewal period that ends at midnight on your birthday.
To obtain a Georgia vehicle tag, you need the following:
Title of car or name and address of lien holder or copy of lease agreement
Proof of insurance. Should have been transmitted by your insurance company to the state’s insurance database before applying for tag;
INSIDER’S TIP . . . ON VISITING THE DDS
“Try to avoid Tuesdays. Wednesdays through Fridays are the better days to come. There’s always a big line when we open on Saturday mornings because everyone thinks they can get here early and get out quickly. Not true. If you must come on Saturday, try to come after 1:30 p.m. The summer tends to be our busiest time since kids are out of school and parents often take several weeks off. Visit our Web site or call before you come to ensure that you have the proper documentation. Our biggest complaint is from people who wait in line only to discover that they have the wrong forms.”
— Keysler Walker, 20-year veteran with the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
INSIDER’S TIP . . . ON GETTING YOUR CAR INSPECTED
“Our busiest time is the beginning and end of each month. The state says that you should have emissions checked 30 to 60 days before your birthday. That’s a good idea. Don’t wait until the last minute. That way you’re on top of things and you are not stuck paying for a lot of repairs at the last minute. You should always keep up the maintenance on your car. If, for example, the ‘check engine’ light comes on, get the problem fixed right away, because it won’t pass inspection.”
— Ross Woolridge, emissions inspector at Mountain Park Citgo in east Cobb