CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of Illinois motorists wait in long lines at the Secretary of State’s driver services facilities every day to get licenses, stickers, or plates; but a lucky few can avoid the hassle.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory discovered a hush-hush alternative.
Loretta Conroy gives us perspective. Most people dread waiting in line at the Secretary of State’s office, but she struggles just to get inside at the Midlothian driver services facility, because the entrance is too narrow for her wheelchair to pivot.
“The wall doesn’t allow for a turn in the wheelchair without picking up the back of it,” she said.
She said a recent visit had her in tears because of how hard it was to get inside.
“I’m not a crier, but it’s so frustrating,” she said.
She thought of an idea: bring driver’s services to people with handicaps. She called the state and found out they already do that.
“She said, ‘Oh, there’s a mobile unit, and she gave me the phone number,’” Conroy said.
The mobile units have set up shop 2,246 times across Illinois in the past four years, but you wouldn’t know that looking at the Secretary of State’s website. The mobile units are not listed on the homepage, or on the page for services for people with disabilities.
Conroy said, when she asked someone at the Secretary of State’s office how disabled people would even know to ask about the mobile units, she was told “we can’t advertise it.”
The state said that’s because they don’t want outsiders taking the time of someone the service is intended for, like seniors and the disabled.
Mobile units follow a schedule, hitting specific locations on specific days in specific communities.
“Is it helpful if nobody knows about it?” Conroy said.
CBS 2 took her search for help down to the most basic level, by conducting Google searches for “how to get to secretary of state office if disabled Illinois” and similar searches, but still didn’t find a link to the Secretary of State’s mobile units.
“There aren’t words for how frustrating this is,” Conroy said.
Back in Midlothian, Conroy’s exit from the driver services facility was made easier by state employees.
“They definitely started hustling when they heard CBS News is in the parking lot,” she said.
Bill Bogdan, the disability liaison for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office spoke to the Morning Insiders about compliance and the difficulty in searching for information about mobile units.
You can see his interview on Tuesday on CBS 2 Morning News at 6 a.m.
To contact Bogdan, email email@example.com