The DMV Should Be Revamped for Shorter Lines

William Hsieh, Photo Director

For years, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices have had notoriously long wait times that can go from two hours up to six in California, according to Although there have been some improvements in wait time over the years, the issue is still significant and needs to be addressed with updates to the whole system with less errors.

A problem is the “old, antiquated [computer] system,” according to DMV Director Jean Shiomoto on The Sacramento Bee. The publication also points out that the DMV “has experienced 34 IT outages since January 2017… The outages ranged anywhere from 15 minutes to nine hours.”

Another problem comes from the ticket system, where customers pick up tickets with their initials and phone numbers. Instead of using one button to check in, the system often takes a few minutes per person according to DMV employees. Customers are also to blame, as many find out they do not have the necessary paperwork after waiting in line for hours.

The California Department of Technology (CDT) started changing the system last year with updates to its hardware and check-in system, which is estimated to cost a total of $18 million (CDT). However, it is behind schedule and many quality issues prevent the new system from working properly, according to Shiomoto.

DMV offices should have a new, modernized computer system that is not prone to random failures. First, the servers and computers should be upgraded with better hardware to be faster and more efficient. Next, new software for DMV services should be implemented, with improvements made to ease of use, speed, data handling, and user interface.

Other states such as Colorado have already implemented new software, which allows for “for a faster customer experience with several additional online service options” Department of Revenue Executive Director Michael Hartman said. A more reliable system allows for faster services and better organization, minimizing human error and decreasing wait times.

Another solution is to make sure all customers have the necessary paperwork before walking through the doors and picking up queue numbers. Each DMV service should be printed clearly and posted outside each office, along with an easy-to-follow checklist for the necessary paperwork. Although checklists are already posted online, not many people are aware due to the number of people who forget their paperwork.

Although these solutions are not likely to be implemented in the next few years, one step to decrease your own wait time is to make an appointment. Fridays and weekends will usually have the longest wait times. Afternoons are also the worst time to go to the DMV, so going early will be the best according to