Got a couple of hours? Let’s talk DMV

Long lines at the DMV?

Yes, really.

We’ve all experienced the giant time suck that is the California Department of Motor Vehicles. You could plan your whole day around a visit to the Thousand Oaks DMV. Walk through the front door at the Avenida de Los Arboles office and you immediately cringe at the sight of people stacked in multiple queues. Sometimes the line snakes out the door and into the parking lot. Be sure to pack a lunch.

It’s an easy target, picking on the DMV, where a four- to six-hour wait is not unheard of. What’s not so easy is finding a solution to the problem that has plagued the department as long as anyone can remember. And it’s a problem that seems to be getting worse.

Pity the driver over 70 who must renew their license in person every five years.

The DMV might be disingenous in reporting that the average wait-time in Ventura County during the first week in August was 21 minutes for those with appointments and one hour and 50 minutes for those without. It takes 20 minutes sometimes just to get through the triage line in order to obtain a number to stand in a second line. It’s a long process, indeed.

The department blames the increased wait times, in part, on the federal government’s new Real ID requirement. Beginning in October 2020, traditional driver’s licenses won’t be enough to board a domestic flight. A state- and federal-compliant Real ID will be required (or a passport or some other form of TSA-approved documentation).

While many license-related services— such as vehicle registration renewal—can be completed online, by mail or at the nearest AAA office, obtaining a Real ID requires an in-person visit to the DMV. Hard to believe so many folks are already going to the DMV to satisfy a mandate that doesn’t take effect for two more years, but that’s the story and the DMV is sticking to it.

Some say the solution to the problem is to throw more money at it.

The state Legislature gave the DMV $16 million in June to target the wait times. The department hired extra personnel and added Saturday service at 60 field offices, including Thousand Oaks. Jacqui Irwin, our local Assembly member, wants to go a step further by granting a proposed three-month extension on all license renewals set to expire this year.

In the meantime, relax, sit back and at least try to enjoy the wait. Don’t forget to bring a good book to read.