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Opinion: Why We Love to Hate the DMV; ‘Talking Transportation’ by Jim Cameron

What three letters strike fear in the hearts of every Connecticut motorist? DWI? NSA? No, the DMV, our beloved Department of Motor Vehicles.

Report by Paula Antolini
April 14, 2015 8:24AM EDT

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OPINION

Commentary on transportation in Connecticut and the Northeast by JIM CAMERON, for 19 years a member of the CT Rail Commuter Council. Jim is also the founder of a new advocacy effort: www.CommuterActionGroup.org Disclaimer: his comments are only his own. All contents of this blog are (c) Cameron Communications Inc.

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Talking Transportation / Why We Love to Hate the DMV

Written by Jim Cameron

What three letters strike fear in the hearts of every Connecticut motorist? DWI? NSA? No, the DMV, our beloved Department of Motor Vehicles.

I had the pleasure of getting my new “verified” drivers license at their Norwalk office recently, girding myself for what the DMV’s own website promised would be a two and a quarter hour ordeal.

Arriving at 1 pm to a full parking lot, I knew I was in trouble. After eleven minutes in the first line, “Information”, I received my number, A104, and was told to wait. At that point the automated system was calling A70 along with D759 and a few B numbers. As numbers were called, people would scurry to the assigned window, but as time wore on, people moved from griping to just bailing out, leaving some numbers called but nobody appearing. That helped move things along.

My number was finally called at 2:15 pm for a transaction that lasted all of four minutes. The clerk was pleasant and efficient. I paid my $72 fee (set by the legislature) on a credit card, waited another six minutes for my picture, and was out the door at 2:37 pm.

There are 2.6 million active drivers licenses in Connecticut and 430,000 are renewed each year, most of them by mail. But every six years your renewal requires a new photo and more recently, an in-person visit, thanks to Homeland Security’s “Real ID” program.

As of October 2020, only “verified” drivers’ licenses (or a passport) will get you past the TSA and onto a plane. “Verified” means your license has been issued after you show the DMV a slew of documents… passport, W2, birth certificate, bank statement, pilot’s license… proving both legal residency and identity.

And as that 2020 deadline draws closer and people realize their driver’s license is really an ID card giving you permission to fly, the lines will get even longer.

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My approval for a new license took just minutes because I had more than enough documentation. But anyone ahead of me in line lacking even one crucial certificate slowed up the process. ( After my ordeal I found that, as a AAA member, I could have got my license at one of their offices for a small convenience fee.)

Add to the mix the thousands of undocumented aliens seeking drivers’ licenses now allowed under a new law, and you get the sense that the DMV is getting very busy.

The agency has added staff, but the offices are still jammed. The DMV says that Wednesday and Friday mornings have the shortest waits, but who’s got a job that lets them take off that much time for a paper chase?

All told my experience at the DMV wasn’t too bad. The clerks were as speedy as their cumbersome process allowed and they even had a nice little coffee and snack stand in the waiting area. I just am grateful this is only necessary once every six years. Seeya in 2021!

Posted by JIM CAMERON

http://talkingtransportation.blogspot.com/2015_04_01_archive.html

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More Info About Jim Cameron

JIM CAMERON Former NBC News director and anchor, now a professional communications consultant, JIM CAMERON leads workshops on media training, speech and presentations skills and preps clients for analyst briefings and legislative testimony. Jim served for 19 years on the CT Metro-North Rail Commuter Council, is an elected member of the Darien Representative Town Meeting (RTM) and is Program Director of Darien TV79, his town’s government TV station. View complete profile.

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(Published with permission from Jim Cameron.)

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