Stop Complaining About Your Local DMV! How Would You Improve It?

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This topic contains 26 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Ressler 9 years ago.

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  • #115848

    Earlier this year, Saturday Night Live ran a skit that lampooned DMV employees. The clip was shared on GovLoop by Steve Radick.

    DMVs seem to be an easy target as most people have encountered long lines, excruciating waits and less-than-enthusiastic personnel at some point in their lives.

    So we like to complain and cajole our DMV colleagues, but how often have you used that time in line to come up with an innovative idea for improving the process?

    Or maybe you already live in a city, county or state that has innovated the process and created – yes, I’m going to say it – a pleasant experience.

    Of course, if you feel the need to sound off on your latest license or tag renewal, I suppose this forum could offer some catharsis.

    But I am most interested in hearing positive, innovative concepts…

  • #115900

    Steve Ressler

    Innovative concepts
    -Motor Vehicle Networks – in Florida, they have big screen TVs run by this network that provide lots of status information on DMV. But it also shows news. And a little advertising (so the DMV doesn’t have to pay for it).
    -Digital renewal – normally I get a piece of paper when it is time for me to renew. I’d love to get a series of digital reminders – add it to my calendar, a series of emails, text messages, etc
    -Wait times online – I’ve been a few times to the DMV and the wait times seem to vary a lot. It would be great to check online what are the current wait times

  • #115898

    Brian Gryth


    All of your ideas are great. There is the one problem, at least in Colorado, the DMV’s computer systems run on computers that are antiquated at best. DMVs need hardware updates if they are going to have a prayer of serving the public. They could also use more locations and staff. Cool apps and tools are non-starters in the infrastructure is not there.

    Cheers, Brian

  • #115896

    Bill Brantley

    A simple idea that can be quickly implemented: checklists for common DMV tasks.

    In October I had to transfer my car registration from Kentucky to Maryland. And yes the information is on line but it is not that easy to navigate and find the right forms. When we showed up at the office we had to drive back and forth from our home to get the documents. From the conversations in our line, this is a common occurrence for many customers.

    So, why not have the information organized into a checklist that you can print out and use to guide the process? Have the necessary forms keyed into the relevant steps. Or better yet, have an entire package that you can print out for common tasks such as licensing a new driver. The information is already there; it just needs better organization.

  • #115894

    Peter Sperry

    Create more career opportunities for public facing DMV employees and clearly link upword mobility into those career paths to quality of customer service. Perhaps even establsih a program to assist truly outstanding customer service reps to move up and out of governemnt into higher paying jobs in the private sector, which would set an example for their fellow workers and open slots for new workers. One of governments major weaknesses is that entirely too many employees interacting with the public on a daily basis have next to no opportuinty for promotion and therefore no meaningful motivation to to provide quality service. If 2-3 years of outstanding performance ratings in customer service led to more substantial rewards than a 2% year end bonus and a picture with the district manager, I suspect we would see dramatic improvements in customer service at DMV, TSA, IRS etc.

  • #115892

    I have to say when I lived in Georgia I had a great experience with the DMV. I had moved there and gotten married all at the same time, and had to go through the processes of changing all my IDs and so forth. Not to mention my tags as I was transfering to a GA resident. I must say, best experiences because the License and Tag offices were seperate….it made my life easier (even if I had to make two trips) because I wasn’t waiting in long lines, it simplified the processes for most people and made it something that was doable in less than an hour! Loved the concept, am missing it now in VA.

  • #115890

    Tricia Adkins

    I’m not sure about something innovative, but I never have understood why I need to physically go down there every 4 years for a new photograph. (And, I’m pretty sure some states have a longer waiting period for renewal). Our DMV is pretty quick when it comes to issuing license plates and things of that nature but the photo process and very long and annoying. It would be nice if we could come up with something else to replace the photo process. Maybe fingerprinting or something. I can’t tell you the number of times that as a younger driver I would get questioned at bars about my identity because I was at the point in my life where I changed my hair style about every other week. And most just took a passing glance at my photo anyway. So, maybe someone could come up with a way to update that process.

  • #115888

    I really like this suggestion, Peter. I wonder how it could be practically implemented…quick survey at a kiosk on the way out the door and a gift certificate as incentive – like a free car wash or coffee at Starbucks.

  • #115886

    Steve Ressler

    Obviously would have to think of fraud issue but would be cool if you could upload a new photo yourself or quickly update the photo.

  • #115884

    Steve Ressler

    This is a great suggestion.

    Defining a career path and reward structure for amazing customer service.

  • #115882

    Christina Morrison

    As a VA resident, I love that my interaction with the DMV is online. Pay my car tax, registration even my licence. CA DMV is a great example of using Social Media to communicate and provide great customer service. Great best practice example.

  • #115880

    Adriel Hampton

    When CA DMV moved to an appointment system, it was a huge improvement. Now, it is a little confusing when you get there and find that you still need to have your appointment slot called, so there could be a little improvement made on clarifying the process at the time you book your appointment (that may have been done; I haven’t been in a while).

  • #115878

    Steve Ressler

    An answer from Twitter

    @GovLoop To improve the DMV I’d set up online chat assistance like banks do, driving more people to use online services & reduce lines

  • #115876

    Heather Coleman

    I like this idea a lot. I’ve actually been pleasantly suprised with the online chat/support feature from Verizon, much more helpful than the regular phone support.

  • #115874

    CA DMV worth highlighting as a Project of the Week, Christina?

  • #115872

    Steve Ressler

    Two from our GL Facebok page

    Deborah Johnson I had occasion to call DOL (Wash. State’s DMV) last week. I did have to wade through several layers of electronic selections & wait on hold for a while, but the system told me in advance how long I would have to wait & the man who eventually helped me was extremely pleasant & told me exactly what I needed to do in order to accomplish my request. I give it a thumbs-up.
    16 hours ago · Like ·

    Mike Chelen It would be nice to get an email or flashing message when my number was called. Having been to the DC DMV recently, the ticket & waiting system was efficient but totally unavailable online. Oh plus they need free WiFi 🙂

  • #115870

    Don Wadewitz

    The Wisconsin DMV just needs to catch up with the times. I don’t believe any of our stations accept credit cards (just cash and checks) and I’ve forgotten this on more than one occasion, gotten to the DMV, grabbed a number (or checked in) and then noticed the sign after 10-15 minutes of waiting and had to leave, come back and start the entire process again. The Wisconsin DMV also charges you extra to do your renewal online.

    It just seems like our DMV needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century on some things that would make them much more consumer-friendly.

    I do like (although I’ve never used the feature) that they contract out and you can renew your plates at some other places like car washes, auto dealers, etc.

  • #115868

    Tamara Lamb-Ghenee

    Saw a couple of comments about extra charges for conducting transactions online. This makes no sense to me. Texas does the same thing. I know it’s only $2 extra to renew your registration online, but you would think there would be a discount to give an incentive to not show up in person and require the attention of an employee. Why should it cost more to keep you out of the line?

  • #115866


    Most people have varied experiences but most are not positive. I have seen other states do alot of online services so if you do not have to physically apply for the first time it will be a time saver if you complete your services on-line or by the mail. I know this one state (Georgia) that has their police with on board computers so they are able to check if you have current automobile insurance ( online service – don’t need to have a insurance card ). Also, if you want to renew your license do it online before it expires and your renewed autombile license card will be mailed to your residence. Your yearly auto tags can be renewed on-line or by the mail. So if you really don’t like the wait help yourself and the others that must be there by using on-line services as much as possible.

  • #115864

    Dawn Lautwein

    The State of South Dakota has recently made improvements to the online vehicle licensing, but before that, an employee still had to do as much manual work for the online transactions as if you’d come in. They just got a computerized list of online transactions and processed them as they normally would and then had the added step of addressing an envelope plus the postage. They only charged .50 extra for stickers mailed out or $4.00 when there are new license plates, but maybe that’s the reasoning elsewhere, too.

  • #115862

    Caryn Wesner-Early

    Our DMV in Arlington, VA is pretty efficient. When you go in, you go first to a central desk (right by the door), where they find out what you need and give you a checklist of required IDs, etc. (This is probably available online, but I haven’t looked.) Then you take a number, deli-style, and wait for them to call you. When they do, a display above the desk you’re being called to shows your number. This, combined with sufficient staffing, means that it rarely takes over 20-30 minutes (if that) to get anything done.

  • #115860

    Pattie Buel

    Maryland DMV has improved tremendously over past years. Most offices now have 2 lines – one for vehicle services and one for driver services where you get your deli style number consisting of letter and number. License renewal numbers always have biggest wait but you can renew by mail every other time (5 yr renewal) if you have eye doctor sign off on form for vision test. Lists of required documents and form are available online so you can come with all filled out – they do need to advertise this part better. Road test for new drivers by appointment only.

    Now if they’d just stagger the employee lunch breaks a little better…..

  • #115858

    Ari Herzog

    I haven’t visited a RMV (we call them Registries here in Massachusetts) in 10 years or more. I only conduct tasks on the website. I receive paper reminders, but the actions and forms and fill-ins and all are online. Not where you are?

  • #115856

    Jaime Vogt

    Man, I just wish we had our DMV’s back… I’d hug a DMV worker if they showed up. It seems like there are 3 DMVs in the entire state of Washington.

  • #115854

    Timothy Theberge

    I would put the Massachusetts DMV up against them all. The completely revamped the system. It has been fantastic. They operate a triage system when you walk in. You tell them what you are there for and they print out a ticket for either license or tags. Either way, once you get there you can do both types of transactions without having to get back in line. You can also renew tags online.

  • #115852

    I wonder if you have any contact information for someone at Mass DMV…perhaps we could conduct an interview with them to learn some lessons from their successful revampp.

  • #115850

    Wendy Cantu

    It was simple (and in a DMV in a medium-size town) but just having one line that was only for license renewals. It didn’t require taking a number, just getting in line. The line was long, but it went relatively fast. It seems so logical to do this, however, this might be implemented as most DMVs, just not the other ones around here.

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