DMV Wait Times Are Officially Out Of Control. Now Lawmakers Want Answers

Photo by Brett Lider/Flickr CC

Going to the DMV can be its own personal trip to a really, really slooooow hell. That's hardly news.

But this week, several California lawmakers said wait times are officially out of control — and they'll be investigating why.

"[Wait times have] exploded all across the state," Rep. Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, recently told KPCC's Take Two, adding that the agency "has done nothing with the resources they've been given."

Last year, lawmakers allocated millions of extra dollars to the DMV to help with the rollout of the new federal security guidelines called "Real ID." Starting in 2020, people who fly domestically will need a new compliant ID card.

The department was given an extra $16.6 million specifically to alleviate wait times at its field offices. But Patterson and others say those infamous waits have actually gotten worse.

The department lists wait times on its website, but Patterson said the site can't be trusted.

On Monday, the estimated wait times at Southern California offices for people without appointments varied from an hour to more than four hours. Those who try to make an appointment to shorten their waits are stuck, too, with many offices full up for months.

"We believe that what is unfolding here is an upper-level management fiasco of the first order," said Patterson, who plans to call for an audit of the department this Wednesday at the next Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

In response to the delays, the DMV has sent 275 employees from headquarters to help triage the lines outside local field offices, the department's spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez said.

"We understand that delays are extremely frustrating, and we are working hard to speed things up," Gonzalez said.

She added that the agency is working with state lawmakers and the California Department of Finance to speed up funding that would pay for 230 more employees and improve self-service terminals.

Meanwhile, Rep. Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, has scheduled a budget hearing on the matter for Tuesday.


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