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Massive Lines Form At New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission Offices As In-Person Service Resumes

WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The first day of reopening for New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission resulted in chaos all over the state.

At one location in Wayne, some people showed up as early as 5 a.m.

People waited in line all day. Some of them arrived not very far behind those who arrived at 5 a.m.

The MVC was supposed to open up last week for in-person transactions, but had to push the date back because computer systems had to be tested.

That brought out a huge crowd Tuesday, and in at least one case, a near fight, reported CBS2's Cory James.

"Can you make sure no one don't cut in line, please, because it's really not fair," one woman on line said.

"Keep walking. Keep walking," said the other.

"You say something? Say it to me again," said the woman.

Wayne police stepped in, breaking the tense moment, after some standing in line outside the New Jersey MVC said a group of people tried cutting to the front.

Web Extra: Interview With Phil Murphy

"They bum-rushed the crowd," said Will Carswell of Woodland. "People been standing here since 6:45 this morning... we ain't having it."

"This is the twilight zone," one person said.

The emotions ran high as drivers waited in the heat and humidity for hours. Some brought beach chairs, while others sat on the ground with their paperwork in hand.

"Beyond frustrating," Olivia Decanio said. "I just want my license so I can go home. It's exhausting."

The mayhem could be seen even before reaching the parking lot. Right off the Route 46 exit to Galesi Drive, police from multiple departments were out directing traffic that was backed up for miles.

The scene was similar at several other MVC locations in the state. In Springfield, Chopper 2 captured a long line of people going down the block. And in Newark, police were seen gathering outside the building as people waited for hours.

"My tester that I just had told us they are working with only half the staff," said Evan Joyce of Pequannock.

"We've been here since 7:30. Nobody comes out here to say specifically the things we have to do... they are not organized at all," a Hudson County resident named Stephanie said.

"Ya'll had 90 days to figure this out," Newark resident Samirah Freeman told CBS2's Jessica Layton.

"You could've got school kids to run this better than what they're running today," added Jamel Hilaire of Union.

Emily Sheppard of Warren said she arrived around 6 a.m.

"We've all been standing here for eight hours. I can't do this again. I just can't," Sheppard said.

MVC officials were not available to go on camera to confirm staffing or computer glitch concerns. However, a spokesperson said they are reminding everyone expiration dates have been extended. And many of the transactions can be done online instead of in person.

Here's their full statement:

As we reopen today, MVC agencies are experiencing extraordinarily high customer volumes. In anticipation of long lines due to social distancing restrictions, Agency management personnel were pre-deployed to our busiest agencies, beginning at 6:00 AM, two hours before our start time. Additionally, all of our senior staff in operations are deployed to agencies to help process transactions. While we understand the frustration of our customers in this extremely challenging and difficult time, our employees are doing the best they can to keep everyone safe and work as efficiently as possible.

Our text notification systems are working as planned, and we remind everyone that expiration dates were extended. We ask everyone to check before you go to an agency, as some customers are in line for transactions that can be done online.

"Yeah, like a stupid idiot, I'm out here 5 o'clock. I couldn't wait a day or two because my ID is on driver's license, so that's why I'm in this damn line," one person said.

The massive, long line snaked around the entire building, making social distancing through a pandemic nearly impossible.

"Not everybody is wearing a mask, which I find a little stressful," said Carla Joyce of Pequannock.

"Nobody is happy to see that. Nobody wants to be waiting in lines like that, so we have nothing but unending sympathy," said Gov. Phil Murphy.

Murphy cited pent-up demand, and urged people to go to to figure out whether they actually need to go in person.

The MVC opens at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, but people are being advised to get there by 4 a.m. CBS2 reached out to the MVC to ask why it didn't extend its hours, but it did not respond.

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