driver license closure

Demonstrators emptied liquor bottles outside the Alabama Capitol to protest the closing of driver's license offices in Black Belt counties.

Selma state senator Hank Sanders told the Montgomery Advertiser that state agencies are leaving money-losing liquor stores open in the impoverished areas while closing rural driver's license offices.

The crowd chanted "Give us the ballot, not just the bottle" during the Monday protest.

The event was one of several demonstrations over the closures.

Alabama has reopened most rural driver license offices for one day each month.

The offices began reopening this week on a limited basis following national backlash over a plan to close them permanently.

In September, The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced plans to close 31 offices where state workers had given driving tests one day per week.

The agency said the closures were necessary because of budget cuts. Critics said the closures created a hardship for rural residents and only saved the state $100,000 a year in travel costs.

Alabamians won't be able to get or renew driver licenses for a few days in late April.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety says it has to convert a database to comply with federal regulations. All systems, including online services, will be shut down from 5 p.m. Friday, April 25 until 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 30.

The closure will also affect probate judges' offices, license commissioners' offices and other agencies that involve Alabama driver license transactions or reviews. Motor vehicle records and accident reports will also be offline.