Looking for the DMV fast lane? There isn’t one

Dear Johnnie: I am writing about an ongoing problem with the local office of the DMV, a problem I am sure you have received letters about in the past.

Recently, my wife and I went to the DMV office on South Main Street and waited over 31/2 hours to be helped. We were not alone. The waiting area was full of people doing what we needed to do: renew a driver’s license. At any one time, there had to have been at least 80 people waiting to be helped with a fairly simple yet important task. All of us waited and endured this situation because we had to. There is no alternative.

Some of the folks I talked to had been there since 9 a.m., and it was 12:30 when we arrived. But, if we wanted to renew the driver’s license, then we also had to wait and hope we would be helped before closing time. There is something very wrong with this picture. Some people had taken the day off from work to complete their business. There were young couples with toddlers and babies in arms; there were elderly people; there were teenagers wanting to take their driving test; there were people in between who came and went, got a number and waited. We all endured this situation patiently yet seething inside because we had no choice. The DMV employees worked diligently and almost robotically to serve all of us, but when one got his/her entitled lunch break, then there was one fewer person to help the waiting crowd.

The average wait period seemed to be over three hours. My wife, who has Parkinson’s and cannot sit for long periods, and I were “trapped” there for nearly four hours. I think this is outrageous. We also endured the same situation five years ago when she had to renew her license. Nothing has changed. Like so much about our society, our numbers seem to have outgrown the institutions’ ability to help us in an efficient and effective way. What can be done?


We all know of the current financial crisis the U.S. is experiencing and have heard of huge budget cuts at all levels in Colorado state services, but this is not just a current financial “cutting corners at all costs.” It is an ongoing problem that needs serious correcting. Thank goodness, as things stand, we only have to endure it once every five years. I only hope that by 2016 something will have changed to correct this very broken system. — JL

Dear JL: I’ve been there and done that. Even took a day off work.

I waited more than an hour to be helped, as did the other 60-some people there. Many, expecting the long wait, brought something to read. That we were all in it together seemed to bring out kindness in people, despite our frustration. I’ve seen people with worse attitudes in grocery store lines.

I took your question straight to the DMV office in Denver. After my second transfer, I was put on hold for the person who could answer my question. The wait was 25 minutes.

Elaine answered the phone and wasted no time when I asked: Is something being done to correct this problem

“The answer is no. We don’t have enough money to hire more people,” she said. “The state’s broke. I don’t know what else to do.”

To complicate matters, each renewal takes time. “Colorado is one of the toughest states to get a license in because we are so picky,” Elaine said. “That has something to do with legal residency. Your middle name, date of birth, Social Security. All of that has to match.”

So, JL, the best I can offer is ways to keep the wait as short as possible, or to avoid it altogether.

According to the DMV website, the best time to avoid long lines is between 8 and 9:30 a.m. The slowest days of the week are Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Or, skip the office visit and renew online. You can do this every other renewal, if you are from age 21 through age 65.

A reminder to all: Before going to the DMV office for renewal, even at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, be sure to bring all of the documentation you’ll need.

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