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California Lawmakers Reject Proposal To Audit The DMV Despite Complaints About Long Waits

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

California lawmakers have declined to audit the Department of Motor Vehicles, after hours-long wait times have drawn statewide scrutiny.

Visits to the DMV can take as much as six hours, as the agency has struggled to hand out new federally required driver’s licenses and IDs. Lawmakers had supplied more than $40 million in the last budget to help, and Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson called for the audit to determine why it wasn’t enough.

“We find ourselves in what appears to be a massive failure of one of the most significant government,” Patterson said to a joint Assembly and Senate committee that approves new audits.

DMV director Jean Shiomoto told the audit committee that the extra money lawmakers had allocated is already spent.

The DMV has now tapped $16 million in emergency funding to hire more employees. The agency requested Tuesday that lawmakers also approve another $26 million. The office of Gov. Jerry Brown says he supports more funding.

But Los Angeles DMV employee Cullen Grant testified on Wednesday that more money for staffing will not solve the long wait times. He blamed broken, decades-old software used by the agency.

“DMV employees have had to accomplish much with inadequate tools for many years,” Grant said. “Hiring of new employees will help, but the department will not be able to hire their way out of this problem.”

The audit request failed without enough support from Democratic Senators on the Legislature’s joint audit committee.

Sen. Ben Allen argued a seven-month-long audit wouldn’t help. “It seems to me that the key things that need to be done, we know,” Allen said.

The DMV said Tuesday it would begin experimenting with self-check-in kiosks and text message notifications to help customers avoid long lines, as well as continuing to expand service hours. Shiomoto also said the DMV will give drivers earlier notice when their driver’s licenses are due to expire.

She said it takes 90 days to make an appointment, but driver’s license renewal notices are mailed 60 days before their expiration.

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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