DMV Wait Times Aren’t Meeting Goals

(Memphis) Promises made to cut down on wait times at the DMV seem stopped at a red light, and it’s driving people mad.

“I guess they don’t have enough money to pay people to work,” Shelby County resident Doris Elmore said.

At the Shelby Drive office in Memphis, frustrated customers asked why during the busiest part of the day only three people are working.

After all, there are 20 counters at the location.

“I kept looking at all the counters they have available and there’s no one working them,” Veronica Wood said.

On a typical day, the Department of Public Safety says ten people are supposed to be working, but on average four examiners are out of the office due to things like vacation and sick time.

During lunch time, another two to three workers are out, cutting staff to about three.

So people like James Gleeton are forced to stand in this traffic.

“I think it could be a better system,” Gleeton said.

He waited for one hour just to get a number.

“I think when you come in the door, you should be able to pick up a number and then you could sit,” he said.

Finally, with his number in hand, he joined other customers whose patience was running thin.

“We’ve been here over an hour,” Elmore said.

The wait once you got your number was another 45 minutes, bringing the total wait time to about one hour 45 minutes.

But that’s not the wait time the state reports.

We found out the state only records the time from the moment people get checked in.

So while Gleeton waited an hour in the first line to get his number, there’s no record of that at the state.

They only count the 45 minutes he waited after he got his number.

But even with that reporting tactic, the state still fell short on its promise made to WREG in November to get wait times to 30 minutes.

“Summer Avenue is around 47 minutes. Shelby drive is around 42 minutes. That’s not good,” DPS Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

Commissioner Gibbons said the rest of the state is seeing 30-minute wait times.

He blames high demand on Memphis’ troubles.

“Part of it is high volume and part is that fact that a lot of employees in the past had not had the training that they needed,” he said.

The state said it’s making improvements to cut times starting with replacing a 30-year-old computer system.

Audits show it should have been replaced a decade ago.

“The General Assembly finally appropriated the funds,” Gibbons said. “It’s about a $30 million project, but we have the funding now. It’s going to take a year and a half to implement the new system.”

Gibbons said the new software and staff training should also help drive down those times.

“We provided a lot of training to our employees. We now have clear expectations for our employees in terms of number of transactions they are to handle to per day. So I think that will make a big difference,” he said.

A difference customers can’t wait to see.

Gleeton: “It will be 2019 when I come back.”

Reporter: “Maybe it will be fixed by then.”

Gleeton: “Probably so, but I’ll be so old I won’t need one.”