Mixed results at DMV office as director tours Bay Area location

Thursday, August 23, 2018
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Here's what happened when California's DMV director toured a Bay Area office...long lines and all.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- It's no secret drivers are fed up with the California DMV as they face long lines at local field offices. However, the agency's director says relief is on the way.

"We're going to work at this as long as it takes to bring our wait times down and make it better for our customers," said DMV director Jean Shiomoto.

RELATED: DMV taking steps to reduce long wait times

Shiomoto visited with staff members at the DMV's Driver License Processing Center in San Jose on Wednesday as part of her on-going efforts to evaluate field offices and processing centers across the state.

Many customers were somewhat shocked by the ease of their experience Wednesday afternoon. Some who came without an appointment were expecting to wait for most of the day, but ended up getting in-and-out in just under two hours.

"They're welcoming you right when you get in the door, they're like, have you been helped? This is what you need," said San Jose resident Marion Bordon.

RELATED: Oakland-based startup disrupting DMV appt. process

Last week, Shiomoto was grilled by lawmakers who questioned why the agency's wait times had skyrocketed over the past year. She blamed the delays on the high volume of customers coming in to apply for a REAL ID, but also acknowledged problems with the department's decades-old computer system. Shiomoto hopes to modernize it within the next four years.

"We're looking to see if we can offer more transactions online, so you don't have to come to our field office," said Shiomoto. "We're working to see how long that would take or if there are any policy concerns on that."

As ABC7 News has reported in the past, not all DMV field offices are equal. In Santa Clara, customers reported wait times Wednesday of up to five hours. But many came prepared and some even said said they expected it to be much worse.

"Sure it's frustrating, but it's a government office," said Vallejo resident Priyanka Pramanik. "You always expect things to be a little bit slower."

RELATED: California rolls out digital license plate pilot program

Customers are being encouraged to use the DMV's self-service kiosks for tasks such as vehicle registrations renewals. Lawmakers recently approved giving the agency $16.6 mil. to hire 230 additional workers.

DMV officials says wait times should start dropping by mid-September and hopefully become more reasonable by the end of the year. The agency also just re-did its website to make it more user friendly.

Get the latest stories and videos about the DMV here.