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DMV May Face Lawmaker Questions About Long Wait Times, Will Expand Hours

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - The California Department of Motor Vehicles may need to answer to the State Legislature next month about the long wait times being experienced at offices statewide.

News of the audit comes as the DMV announced it is expanding its Saturday hours and will open certain offices one hour early on weekdays in order to help ease wait times caused by the new Federal REAL ID requirement, and a new queueing system and a new license and ID application.

Assemblymembers Jim Patterson (R- Fresno), Phillip Chen (R- Brea), and Matthew Harper (R- Huntington Beach) requested a Joint Legislative Audit Committee audit to address the wait times. In a letter sent July 2 to the Committee Chair, the Assemblymembers wrote:

"Our offices have experienced a surge in constituent complaints, and reports from across the state show that customers are routinely experiencing more than five hour delays at DMV to process routine transactions. Appointments are booked more than a month in advance, and even customers with appointments are facing hours-long waits. According to the DMV, these delays are primarily due to REAL ID implementation. The challenges associated with this process are considerable, and the spike in DMV visits is projected to continue through at least 2020. Therefore, it is imperative that the Legislature evaluate DMV's plans to handle the workload and reduce wait times."

The DMV estimates more than 23 million Californians will apply for a REAL ID in the next five years. Applications must happen in-person. In order to handle the increased workload the DMV will "conduct a mass hiring of employees" which will cost an additional $220.6 million. So far it's hired 330 additional employees and plans to hire 166 more.

ALSO: System Outage, Real ID Explanations Create Long Waits At DMV

The letter goes on to say:

"We are deeply concerned that if DMV's plans and strategies are inadequate, constituents will continue to face unacceptably long wait times, inaccurate information, and disorganization at branch offices."

The Assemblymembers write that the Legislature has already provided the DMV with $70 million for REAL ID compliance and would like to know if the DMV is on track to meet its hiring projections, and whether the new employees are adequately trained.

The Committee meets August 8 and will vote on the audit request.

You can read the full letter and questions here: DMV Audit Request Letter.

According to Assemblymember Jim Patterson's office, the DMV asked for funding in January in order to open 60 field offices every Saturday from 8 am-5 pm. The Legislature approved the funding, but the DMV didn't start Saturday hours at 40 offices until mid-June. The Saturday hours were only 8 am-1 pm and only on two Saturdays a month.

In July, the DMV added 3 field offices to the list.

Starting Saturday, August 4, an additional 17 field offices (Folsom, Bell Gardens, Culver City, Daly City, El Centro, El Cerrito, Fontana, Hemet, Long Beach, Merced, Redding, San Bernardino, San Pedro, Santa Teresa, Vallejo, Visalia, West Covina) will open.

A total of 60 field offices will operate every Saturday from 8 am-5 pm for all DMV transactions, except behind-the-wheel exams.

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In addition to the Saturday hours, starting Monday, July 16, 14 offices (Auburn, Carmichael, Davis, Rocklin, Turlock, Bakersfield Southwest, Chula Vista, Lincoln Park, Newhall, Oakland Claremont, Pomona, San Jose Driver License Process Center, Santa Ana, and Winnetka) will open at 7 am Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and close at 5 pm. The offices will open at 9 am Wednesdays.

The DMV will also reconfigure the queueing system in hopes it will help ease wait times.

Those applying for a REAL ID should make sure they have all of the required documents needed in order to apply.

Appointments can be scheduled up to 90 days in advance.

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