Stay clear of DMV the first week of July


When the agency renowned for long waits tells you not to stop in during the month of July, it’s a good idea to listen.

That’s just what the Department of Motor Vehicles did last week when it announced it would launch a long overdue new computer system on July 5. There wasn’t anything subtle about the message either. In bold letters the release is headlined by the advice “Go early, go to AAA, or delay your visit.” It was repeated by DMV Administrator Walter “Bud” Craddock, who emphasized if, for some reason, you must visit the DMV during the conversion of systems you had best bring your patience.

For most transactions there are alternatives. AAA Northeast that has long provided license and registration renewal services for members has opened its doors to non-members at no charge. Then assuming you don’t procrastinate and act quickly after receiving notification a renewal is coming up, there’s the mail. Online service is also available, and to make it not painful, customary banking charges have been waived for most online DMV transactions.

The new computer system comes after years of being told modernization of the system is around the corner and when it finally does happen that DMV employees will be capable of improved processing resulting in faster transactions, better management of data and the holy grail of reduced waits.

But as the state knows all too well from the screwed up implementation of the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) system for issuing assistance checks to individuals and vendor payments even supposedly the best of plans and technology don’t always work as designed. Such a flub with the DMV would not only leave egg on the faces of officials but also affect a large segment of the population – the DMV processes about 35,000 transactions monthly. We can only imagine the outcry and quite possibly the call to return to the long wait lines because at least that worked.

That’s why Craddock and the Department of Revenue are introducing the system piecemeal and promising not to throw the switch unless they’re completely comfortable. That’s reassuring.

In the meantime, listen to what the DMV is saying – don’t delay what can be done online and by mail until June 29 and June 30 respectively. If that’s not possible, visit AAA and, finally, if there’s no option but to visit the DMV, then be prepared to “really” wait. And we’re not talking 90 minutes either.


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