Outages, teen drivers, REAL IDs driving up DMV wait times

Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Wild wait times at DMV
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People are battling the heat and wild wait times at the DMV.

If you're planning to go to a DMV office in North Carolina this summer, be prepared to wait.

On Wednesday, Folks waited for hours in soaring temperatures in an outside line that curved around the DMV office in Cary.

"It's pretty hot," said Trevor Hair of Durham. "I should have brought a water, definitely, at least to prepare."

"We brought water bottles, snacks, umbrellas," said Rose Mathew of Cary.

More on ABC11: Mobile DMV visits UNC athletic department to promote Real IDs

The DMV said the long waits are due to more students getting their drivers' licenses in the summer and more people getting their REAL IDs.

Add that to recent outages that have forced some customers to return to DMV offices for another long wait.

Courtney Wood waited outside the DMV in Cary so long that she ordered a pizza for lunch.

"I had this delivered," said Wood, of Apex. "I was afraid to leave my spot in line."

She's not the only one. Alex Kraemer said he's delivered Jimmy John's to that DMV 5 or 6 times in just the past 3 days.

"Normally they're like, 'Oh my gosh thank you so much," Kraemer said.

DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup said the system issues have been cleared after an outage that affected the vehicle tax system. Before that, he said the national driver registration system was down.

"That's yet another system that we have to connect to, to verify people's information, drivers' information that was down," Commissioner Jessup said. "Some of the system outages, unfortunately, they happen. Not to make excuses but they're not in my control."

To help ease the long waits, Commissioner Jessup said they're considering opening some offices at 7 a.m. or hiring more staff. He said they need to fill 80 vacant positions.

"Some of this is about making sure that we have the appropriate number of staff, or workforce, so we can stagger those shifts to extend any types of hours," said Commissioner Jessup. "So resources are critical for us to be able to accomplish some of those types of ideas."

Customers told ABC11 they'd like to wait in the shade.

"I'd love if they had a little shade thing to block us from the sun," Hair said.

"It is hot out here and I acknowledge that and I don't want anybody to be in harm's way, for sure, but I have to follow the law at the same time," said Commissioner Jessup. "We've had instances where the fire marshal has been called out to make sure that we are within capacity."

Commissioner Jessup said statewide average wait times were 47 minutes this past month. Compare that to under 30 minutes in the non-summer months. For those in more populated areas, the wait can be several hours.

"I made it, finally, after 5 hours of wait," said Sushmidha Munigala.

"We got here about 7:40 this morning so three and a half hours we've been waiting outside," said Neal Smith, of Cary.

You can book an appointment but several customers told ABC11 the next available appointments are in January.

Commissioner Jessup said they want to improve their appointment system as well.