Gilroy man travels 168 miles to get DMV appointment

Byby Renee Koury and Michael Finney via KGO logo
Friday, October 5, 2018
EMBED <>More Videos

We've seen the excruciatingly long lines at DMV offices across California. Trying to get an appointment is another waiting game.

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- We've seen the excruciatingly long lines at DMV offices across California. Frustrated drivers wait for hours just to get inside, and sometimes hours more to get to the counter.

Trying to get an appointment is another waiting game, with many drivers traveling outside their towns to snare an opening.

RELATED: California to audit DMV amid hourslong wait times, outages

But how far to go?

Carl Clemm of Gilroy may have set a new record. He traveled 168 miles down the coast to San Luis Obispo to get his appointment.

"San Luis Obispo was a great idea,'' Clemm said. "At least for us."

Clemm was in a jam because his license was about to expire. He was required to take a written test and eye exam to renew it. But to his surprise, the normally sleepy DMV office in Gilroy was booked solid for months.

"The earliest appointment was one day after my license would expire,'' he said.

RELATED: Oakland-based startup disrupting DMV apt. process

He began a search for appointments in nearby towns: San Jose, Santa Clara, Watsonville, even Los Banos. He tried going further up the coast to San Mateo. "Nobody had any openings until way out,'' he said. "My wife said 'Why don't you try San Luis Obispo?' "

And it worked. The seaside town had an opening 12 days before his license would expire. The couple has a daughter living there, so they turned the ordeal into a nice visit. It all seemed to work out.

"We got there and the lines were really long (at the DMV) but I had an appointment and got right in,'' Clemm said. "Got my records, took the test, got my eye exam,''

And walked out with a temporary license.

The only problem? The DMV never sent his permanent license. And the temporary was about to expire. Worse? The DMV told him to go to a DMV office and ask for an extension.

"I was like oh, no!" Clemm recalled. "I still would have had to wait hours in a line."

He contacted 7 On Your Side. The team reached out to the DMV and it found the problem: Homeland Security was still validating Clemm's passport. The DMV re-entered the passport number. It checked out, and that generated his permanent license.

"I came home to find the license in my mailbox,'' Clemm said. "No waiting in line after all. Wonderful. I feel validated and law abiding."

It's a good heads up for anyone whose license is expiring in the next few months. We checked Bay Area DMV offices and they are booked solid. For example, as of October 3, the earliest appointment in San Jose was December 21st. Corte Madera's earliest was December 28, Fremont and San Francisco didn't have appointments until January of next year.

Click here for more stories and videos related to the DMV.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.