California to audit DMV amid hourslong wait times, outages

Posted at 1:32 PM, Sep 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-21 16:32:42-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown ordered an audit Friday of the Department of Motor Vehicles in light of long wait times at field offices.

"Long wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) do not reflect the high standards of service that Californians expect from their state government," Keely Bosler, director of the state's department of finance, wrote in a letter to DMV Director Jean Shiomoto.

The finance department's audit will look into the DMV's information technology and customer service.


Brown's order came a day after a computer outage crippled more than a third of DMV offices for several hours. A router issue prevented about 70 offices from processing driver's license, identification card, and vehicle registration matters, spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez said.

"We welcome the Department of Finance's input into DMV's ongoing efforts to reduce wait times and improve customer service and stand ready to assist with the audit," Shiomoto said in a statement.

The DMV has faced angry backlash in recent months from lawmakers and customers over long lines that have left people waiting hours.


Shiomoto has told lawmakers wait times spiked several months ago as Californians updated their licenses to meet new federal security standards known as Real ID. The agency underestimated how long it would take to explain the new requirements to customers and ensure they have necessary documents, Shiomoto said.

After Oct. 1, 2020, airport security checkpoints won't accept cards without the special markings required by the federal government. Californians must apply for new cards in person at DMV offices.

The department has already hired hundreds of additional employees to handle increased demand. The state has increased funding for the department to lower wait times.


The agency has also come under scrutiny after it mishandled roughly 23,000 voter registrations under the state's new "motor voter" law.

California's motor voter law lets residents automatically register to vote and took effect in April. The DMV says it sent the secretary of state's office incorrect information for thousands of voters. The department says the errors mostly affected customers' vote-by-mail, language and political party selections.

The state Legislature in August denied a request by Republican lawmakers to audit the DMV.

"I'm glad to see Jerry Brown finally heed the call of Republicans in the Legislature," Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher of Yuba City said in a statement. "This action, although too late for many Californians who've had to wait in extremely long lines, will hopefully lead to better efficiency and a full review of a flawed voter registration process."