Walton County Driver License Administrator issues his last driver’s license

Special to Gannett
James Hallford, (left) retiree and Rhonda Skipper, Walton County Tax Collector.

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS —  After 35 years of working with the State of Florida and the Walton County Tax Collector’s office, James Hallford, Driver License administrator, issued his last driver’s license March 31 and will be stepping into the retirement phase of his life.  

“James brought over with him a wealth of knowledge concerning the driver’s license field,” says Rhonda Skipper, Walton County Tax collector. “He is part of our work family and we will truly miss him. Especially the numerous great memories of laughter and friendship at our office.”

Driver’s License in the Beginning

Hallford discussed how the Florida driver license has changed and evolved over the years from when he started back in 1986. He recalls the cost for a driver license was approximately $10 and to get a replacement license cost $3.

Hallford remembers when getting your Florida driver license in the 1980’s only required an eye exam, road test and written exam. The written exam consisted of 50 questions and 25 of those were identifying road signs.

“If you were an adult all you needed was a social security card with your name on it, which was the name that would be put on your driver’s license,” he said. “There were also other documents people would bring in to identify who they were such as library cards, hunting and fishing licenses, family Bibles and even birth certificates from hospitals with foot imprints on them.” 

Hallford says that things have changed over the last 35 years, especially since September 11, 2001, which federal guidelines now requires you to prove who you legally are with a state issued document or passport. This is better known as the Federal REAL ID Act.

When getting a driver’s license now the cost is $54.25, and a replacement license is $31.25. The written test still consists of 50 questions but instead of 25 road sign identifiable questions, there are now only 5 questions.

When he started, Hallford remembers the first driver’s license he issued was just a paper card with the driver’s information on it with no picture. Over the years the state moved to issuing a laminated card with a polaroid picture on it which was taken by the driver’s license office. 

Memorable Moment

Over the years, Hallford had numerous fun memories with most of them being during the driving tests.

“There was this one time when I explained to this young man about how his driving test was going to be conducted. I instructed him to go outside and wait in his vehicle. When I got outside, the young man was so nervous that he drove off and started the driving exam by himself and left me standing there with my clipboard on the sidewalk. When the young man finally returned, Hallford asked him, “Well, did you pass?”