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DMV waits can be long or short

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The average wait time at an N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles office to get a new driver’s license, to renew a driver’s license or apply for a new identification card can be long or short depending on the office you visit, the agency's data show.

At the Elizabeth City office just off U.S. Highway 17 South, the average wait is about an hour and 40 minutes, according to data provided by DMV spokesman John Brockwell. The wait at the DMV office in Nags Head is only a couple of minutes better — an hour and 38 minutes.

That compares with much shorter wait times at other DMV offices in eastern North Carolina.

Brockwell's data show wait times of slightly more than six minutes in Roanoke Rapids, just under 10 minutes in Williamston, just under 14 minutes in Rocky Mount and just under 14½ minutes in Kinston.

The wait is a bit longer at some other DMV offices in the eastern part of the state — 25 minutes in Washington, just under 32½ minutes in Ahoskie and nearly 37 minutes in Greenville.

According to Brockwell's data, the average wait time statewide is an hour and four minutes. The office in Lillington in Harnett County has the longest average wait time: nearly two hours and 17 minutes.

Brockwell didn’t have information about the average wait time at the Edenton office in Chowan County. He also didn’t have data for the mobile DMV offices in Hertford in Perquimans County, Barco in Currituck County or Gatesville in Gates County. The agency doesn’t keep data about wait times at mobile sites.

There is some positive news for those who complete a long wait at the Elizabeth City DMV office. According to DMV data, the average service time is less than 7½ minutes.

DMV has come under increased scrutiny as a result of long lines and wait times at many offices across the state. The backup at some offices has grown as teenagers seek to get their driver’s licenses before the start of the school year next week and as more citizens seek to obtain what's called a REAL ID card.

In an attempt to tighten national security, the federal government has set an October 2020 deadline for citizens to obtain a REAL ID card. Those presenting the card will have an easier time boarding commercial airliners and entering military bases.

To address the backups at DMV offices, DMV officials said they're working to hire more than 100 new license examiners. That includes filling 80 current vacancies and adding 34 new and temporary examiners.

Brockwell said the staff increases are beginning immediately at some of the larger offices in North Carolina. He noted that 122 new examiners are being hired and trained.

Brockwell also said examiners will be receiving additional training on handling the larger-than-normal number of citizens seeking REAL ID cards.

He said office greeters are now making sure people arriving for a REAL ID card have the correct documentation, and that those seeking to renew their license are informed they can do so online.

Many DMV offices in larger areas are also beginning to offer “express lanes” for people seeking license renewals or state-issued identification cards, Brockwell said. Plans are also in the works to add satellite DMV offices in some urban areas, he said.

An additional permanent DMV office also will be added later this year in the Charlotte area. 

To avoid the long wait for renewing a driver’s license, DMV officials urge motorists to visit https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/license-id/renewal-replacement/Pages/default.aspx

For those seeking information about a REAL ID card, click on: https://connect.ncdot.gov/business/DMV/REALIDToolkitDocuments/REAL%20ID%20Requirement%20List.pdf.

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