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DMV: Too Busy With Present To Deal With Future?

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A man uses a self-service terminal to renew his registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles field office in Sacramento.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

When California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed bills that would have created digital and enhanced drivers’ licenses, he said the DMV already has too much on its plate to take on new programs. Which raises the question: What’s on that plate?

The governor clearly feels the Department of Motor Vehicles has enough work as it is. Brown vetoed legislation that could have led to digital driver licenses on smart phones, writing that “Given the many new responsibilities” the DMV is dealing with, “I don’t believe this bill is advisable.” And in his veto message on enhanced driver license legislation – which would speed border crossings – the governor suggested other means could achieve the same goal without “imposing new burdens” on the DMV.

Democratic Asm. Matt Dababneh wrote the digital license bill. He’s frustrated that what he calls a “common-sense” bill was vetoed “not on the merits of the bill, not on whether or not it was a worthy endeavor, but because the DMV – or the governor, at least, felt that the DMV – wasn’t capable of handling the challenge or the workload at this time.”

To which the DMV’s Jessica Gonzalez responds: “Every year, the DMV is busy working on new laws and policies that need to be implemented.”

She points to California’s new driver license program for people living in the state illegally; driverless car regulations; and automatic voter registration under the newly-signed “Motor Voter” law. But, she adds, new programs and technologies like digital driver’s licenses are always a possibility in the future.


Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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