Capitol Alert

You could register your car every other year under this plan to cut California DMV wait times

California DMV customers angry over rising wait times

Customers across California are experiencing rising wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles. People at the Sacramento South field office on July 26, 2018 were particularly frustrated.
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Customers across California are experiencing rising wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles. People at the Sacramento South field office on July 26, 2018 were particularly frustrated.

Customers frustrated by long wait times at California’s Department of Motor Vehicles may soon catch a break.

A proposal from state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, calls on the department to reduce customer visits by allowing them to register their licenses every other year.

Senate Bill 460 is the latest in a string of proposals aimed at tackling problems with the DMV. Beall said his plan will allow the DMV to focus more of its energy on addressing other issues.

“We know there are systemic problems with the DMV,” Beall said in a statement. “I’m working to tackle efficiency measures that would allow DMV employees to spend more time on customer service. My bill to make registration two years rather than one, is just one idea on how to increase efficiency so the DMV can focus on core services and simplification through more automation.”

He also intends to have lawmakers come up with other ideas to improve the customer experience. Senate Bill 152 is a placeholder that demonstrates “the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to implement efficiencies at the department in order to improve service.”

DMV officials are scheduled to testify at the Capitol at 1:30 p.m. March 12. They will provide a comprehensive update on a number of issues to the Senate Transportation Committee, which is led by Beall.

Since fall 2018, the DMV has substantially reduced wait times. Still, it has come under fire for being too slow to issue licenses. The department announced a delay earlier this month causing 150,000 Californians to not get their licenses as quickly as they should.

In just over a month, the DMV has seen two directors leave. The Department of Finance will release findings from its audit on the DMV’s performance in the late March. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been aggressive in calling for change at the DMV, announcing the formation of a strike team in January to examine a department he considers “chronically mismanaged.” Newsom’s strike team is expected to release its findings shortly after the Department of Finance completes its audit.

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.

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