Audit: Memphis Has Longest DMV Wait TImes In Tennessee

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(Memphis) Nothing tests your patience like a visit to the DMV, especially in Memphis.

Reporter: “What’s the longest you've ever waited here before? About three or four hours,” Sam Stitts said.

“The one on Summer, probably two and a half hours before,” Justin Riddling said.

WREG obtained a recent audit by the State of Tennessee Comptroller’s office on the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

It shows wait times are up at the DMV’s on Summer Avenue and in the Hickory Ridge Mall.

The wait at the Summer office averages just over an hour, the second highest in the state.

The location at the Hickory Ridge Mall has the longest wait times.

We were told that’s because it is a reinstatement center and that process takes longer.

The average time for that is 148 minutes.

Far and away-- the longest wait time in the entire state.

The wait there is seven times longer than the wait at the reinstatement center in Nashville, where people wait just 20 minutes.

“I’m hoping to make my last payment hoping it won’t take two to three hours. Hoping to go in and go out and hoping and I won’t have to see them no more,” Stitts said.

Stitts is used to waiting two hours at Hickory Ridge-- which is actually faster than the average driver.

“It shouldn't take that long anyway they have 4 or 5 people back there,” he said.

Riddling shared in the frustration.

“They need to do something better about it. We are taking off work, and sometimes we get in there. We wait all that time we don`t have the exact information that we need and we have to do it all over again,” Riddling said.

When WREG told Memphis mayor A C Wharton about the wait times, he said it needs to be fixed.

“If we make you do something we shouldn't punish you for doing it,” Wharton said.

The audit says there's a fix, and the problems should have been fixed five years ago.

In 2008, a similar audit told the DMV to replace it's then 30 year old licensing system.

It was told again in 2010.

Last month-- a third warning from the state-- the 35-year-old system must go because it can't keep up with customer service and safety.

“Really can’t argue with the audit,” Department of Safety Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin said.

Godwin says his commission is working on the problems and finally signed a deal on a new licensing system

“Trying to get the technology in has been a struggle. In 15 more months we`ll have new software. It will make a lot of difference in the way we do business,’ he said.

He added other software that was put in place recently is already cutting down on wait times.

Those changes aren't reflected in last month’s audit.

“We’ve installed new equipment and it’s gotten better. The times are actually down about 28 minutes from a year ago when you look at it. It’s still not acceptable numbers to us because we are still in the forties.”

Godwin says his department set these goals for wait times.

“We want them down by 30 minutes by the first of the year,” he said. “Twenty-eight minutes in the next year, and overall goal 24 minutes.”

Twenty-four minutes, that’s more than two hours less than what your current wait time is at Hickory Ridge.

“We’re going to fight to get this down as a team and we are working as a team. It will get down bare with us.

Stitts is hopeful. On this day he was in and out of the hickory ridge location in under 30 minutes.

“I guess they are trying to do something about it,” Stitts said.

Something to stop the revolving door of aggravation at DMVs.


  • Ron Shaffer

    Ironic how now you don’t even get a license when you go in. They give you a temp lic and your new lic takes up to 20 days now because all the laminated ones are now coming from one location. That is what they told my son who just got his lic reinstated Wednesday.

  • mike

    they are always talking to each other and acting totally uninterested in doing their jobs like normal employees ! its seems if you give them a small amount of power they misuse it too the max ! seems the norm for ignorant democrats

  • Nonya Bidness

    This is what happens when you elect drunk azzholes to represent you in Nashville. It’s hard to take a drunk seriously.

  • Thomas H. Evans

    “Buckwheat,” get a life! Read what “Mike” said, he hit it on the head about the employee’s. I was just out there on Summer, and the behavior of the female officer at the reception desk was unacceptable on my first visit. I left and went back when there was a tall, light brown skin officer at the desk and things were much more professionally handled. I noticed while waiting that the ladies continued to leave their post for one reason or another, paying little attention that the room was full. I did get in and out in one hour, but it really shouldn’t take that long, especially when all I was doing was renewing my license. Godwin has to do a better job on training his employees, according to the person who waited on me, he felt that everyone on the pictures on the wall were useless, including Bill Gibbons.

  • Marjorie Mangrum

    Take a look at the efficient way Car License are renewed, Those ladies are fast efficient, helpful and curteous….. I believe our driver license renewal stations can be run just as efficiently…….

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