The problem began sometime after 8 a.m., affecting most of the DMV field offices throughout California, including in the Bay Area, DMV spokesman Armando Botello said.
Botello said offices were experiencing "cascading" outages until about 11:45 a.m., when the problem was fixed.
"A network interface unit was broken, and it was repaired," Botello said. He said the system where the problem occurred is overseen by the office of the State Chief Information Officer.
A spokesman for that office was not immediately available for comment.
Until the problem was resolved, DMV workers took down information by hand in order to input it into the computer system later, Botello said.
Some offices were able to continue to conduct driving tests, while other appointments were rescheduled, he said.