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California Lawmakers Slam DMV Over Soaring Wait Times

Richard Vogel / AP Photo

People line up at the California Department of Motor Vehicles prior to opening in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.

Richard Vogel / AP Photo

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is under fire for massive wait times at field offices that have approached eight hours in recent months.

Lawmakers in both parties ripped into DMV Director Jean Shiamoto at an Assembly hearing Tuesday.

“I am a bit resistant to the idea that the solution here is just throw more money at the DMV. We have done that, over and over again,” said Asm. Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), ripping into what he called the agency’s outdated technology and poor management.

“At some point, the buck has to stop somewhere,” added Asm. Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove). “Someone has to be held accountable. This is not acceptable.”

Shiamoto apologized to customers and blamed the delays on three new projects: the federal “Real ID” program, a queueing system and an electronic driver’s license application.

“This is the first time in years that the department has implemented this number of customer-facing initiatives at the same time,” she said. “The implementations did overlap creating new and additional workload for staff and new and additional processes for customers.”

Shiamoto said the DMV is testing new ideas to reduce wait times — from text notifications to self check-in kiosks — and hiring more staff for extended weekday and Saturday hours.

“I am confident that the major actions taken this past week and those to be implemented in the coming weeks and the months will produce significant reductions in customer wait times,” she said.

Shiamoto asked lawmakers for an additional $26 million. That’s on top of state funding increases totaling more than $60 million over the last year.

Lawmakers will open another front against the DMV on Wednesday as they debate whether to order an audit.

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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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