MetroIf you have business at the DPS – maybe your teen is ready to get their driver’s permit or your own license needs replacement – you’re in luck. The Texas Department of Public Safety, after citizen complaints, press exposes about long lines, and a $63 million boost from the 2011 Legislature, has opened a few mega-centers across the state for your convenience. One is very close to Lake Highlands, and I had occasion to try it Friday while the paint was still fresh on the walls. (I’m just sad the facility wasn’t open when my four kids were turning 16.)

We traveled to the center, located at Northwest Highway and Saturn Road just outside the LBJ loop, and were met at the door by a helpful employee. He asked us our business, guided us to a kiosk, got us the right form and led us to the proper waiting area. Surrounded by fresh-faced teens in jeans and letter jackets awaiting their drivers test and their license to freedom, we were there only 15 minutes – barely enough time to strike up my Kindle – before we were called to a station. This DPS employee was proud of the 24,000 square foot center and delighted to help (astonishing given our past hellish experiences), and we were gone in another 10 minutes.

While there, we heard partial phone numbers being called, and I learned that you can get in line using a text-enabled cell phone. The website says this allows you to “have lunch, run errands or check tasks off your to-do list” until it’s time for your number to be called, but, based on our experience, I’d say you should probably stay fairly close by. It’s possible they are employee-heavy now because they just opened, but if their response time stays this good, you won’t have long to wait.