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DMV Director Asks For More Money To Cut Wait Times, But Resists Audit

SACRAMENTO (CBSLA/AP) — The director of the California DMV wants millions of dollars to help cut down on long wait lines that have recently plagued local offices, but is resisting calls for an audit.

DMV Director Jean Shiomoto was grilled by lawmakers on wait times that spiked several months ago as Californians update their licenses to meet new federal security standards known as Real ID.

The agency underestimated how long it would take to explain the new requirements to customers and ensure they have necessary documents, Shiomoto said.

Shiomoto asked lawmakers Tuesday for additional money to hire more employees, possibly as much as $26 million on top of the millions in additional funding the agency has already been granted.

Lawmakers have given the department millions of dollars in additional funding to accommodate higher demand as Californians update their licenses to comply with the federally mandated security upgrades.

The federal law was enacted in 2005 in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and requires new ID cards to carry special markings. After Oct. 1, 2020, airport security checkpoints won't accept non-compliant cards. Californians must apply for new cards in person at DMV offices.

The department has already hired hundreds of additional employees to handle increased demand. The agency is also encouraging people to complete some paperwork before arriving in person and is piloting text message alerts for waiting customers.

At least two lawmakers have requested an audit of the department and how it is handling the Real ID changes.

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee will consider the audit request, but Shiomoto said that an audit at this time would strain the agency's resources just as it was trying to reduce wait times.

To ease the long wait times, the DMV is staffing 60 offices on Saturdays and extending morning hours at 14 offices.

"We want to do better and we will do better," Shiomoto said. "Our customers deserve it."

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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