How Long Is the DMV Wait Time?

how long is the DMV wait time

Going to the DMV is rarely—if ever—a fun trip to make. Not only do you have to contend with outdated technology, too much paperwork, and disgruntled employees, but you also have to deal with something worse than all three of those combined: wait times. 

In 2018, the Department of Motor Vehicles noticed a decrease in customer satisfaction and decided to conduct a study on wait times. Rightfully so, the DMV thought this was the primary factor contributing to low customer satisfaction, so the organization wanted factual data to help improve. 

The study’s findings, though, come as a slight surprise. The DMV reports that, on average, Americans wait 44 minutes to receive service at one of its offices. What’s more surprising is that major cities measure even shorter wait times. 

In New York, the average DMV wait time is 35 minutes. In New Jersey, it’s 26 minutes. And in Pennsylvania, it’s 21 minutes. 

Do you remember the last time you waited 20-something minutes to get service at your local DMV office? If not, you’re not alone. No one remembers because it rarely happens. 

What are the DMV wait times really like?

While the study indicates short DMV wait times, the reality is much different. As unfortunate as it sounds, unbearable lines are a part of the DMV experience, and you should expect to see them. 

Even if your local DMV claims to have more employees, longer hours, and better technology, you’ll still experience long wait times. And you can be confident in this fact by looking at examples. 

In 2018, California’s DMV Director, Jean Shiomoto, wrote in a letter that DMV wait times were down statewide by an average of 30 minutes. Of course, she cited the increase in staff, advanced technology, and longer hours as the reason for the decrease. 

But one California citizen was curious to see if this announcement was indeed true. She decided to visit a DMV office in Santa Monica during the weekday to get her REAL ID. 

However, before she left, she checked the DMV’s website to look at the wait time for her service. Based on the information she read, the DMV wait time would be an hour—no more, no less. So, she headed off to see if she’d leave the DMV in an hour with her Real ID in hand. 

Unsurprisingly, this did not happen. 

When this California resident got to the DMV, she had to endure a wait before the actual wait. Instead of immediately sitting in the waiting room, a long line was pouring outside of the DMV’s doors. And it took her 48 minutes to finally reach the front of the line to grab her ticket and take a seat.

By then, it was obvious that the one hour wait did not include the amount of time it took to get the ticket number. What’s worse is that by the time she sat down, the original DMV wait time shot up to an hour and a half. 

The real icing on the cake, though, is that the new timeframe wasn’t even accurate. It took her 2 hours and 20 minutes for someone to assist her. And if you add the time it took to get the ticket, she waited a total of 3 hours and 8 minutes. 

Clearly, the DMV wait time had not decreased. It was just as long as usual. 

How the pandemic is worsening DMV wait times

what to know about DMV wait times

During normal times, you can find a couple of customer stories that shed light on the DMV’s slowness and inefficiency. However, during a pandemic, you don’t just find a couple of stories. You find a plethora of them, and they’re not just on personal blogs. 

The DMV wait times have gotten so bad during the pandemic that major news outlets like the New York Times are even reporting about them. Recently, the media outlet wrote a story explaining how people are making money by camping out in front of DMV offices to save someone else’s spot in line. 

This strategy is a step above the one some people were initially using. When the DMV first opened its offices after a nationwide shutdown, most customers got in line as early as 3 a.m. to avoid long wait times. However, because that strategy didn’t work, some people are taking things a step further. 

In New Jersey, a woman and her 4-year-old son set up a tent outside of a Motor Vehicle Commission office. She planned to sleep there until 8 a.m. when the office would open for the day. 

The woman told the New York Times that she didn’t need to get anything from the office. She was simply holding the spot for a motorist who was paying her $150. And unfortunately, this woman’s story is not a rarity. 

You can find many people who are willing to go to the DMV to hold your place in line. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are just two websites full of people who are offering to wait in line at a DMV office overnight. Their fees range from $50 to $600—and some of them make enough money to pay their bills. 

The long DMV wait times during the pandemic have created a whole new type of gig worker. And while you might consider having someone wait in line on your behalf, is that convenience really worth your money? What if you had another option? 

How to avoid long DMV wait times  

If you want to avoid DMV wait times, you don’t have to stand in line at 3 a.m. or pay someone to do it for you. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your home. 

You can avoid long wait times by using Barry Risk Management, Inc. for all of your DMV needs. Their services are online. You don’t have to go anywhere.

And if you need one-on-one help, you can reach out to a representative. With well over 30 years of experience in the DMV industry, the team at Barry Risk Management, Inc. has the knowledge and expertise to ensure you get what you need. 

Whether you have a common request like registering a vehicle or a less typical need like getting a driver’s license abstract, Barry Risk Management, Inc. can help you. 

Don’t spend extra time or money to avoid long DMV wait times. Contact Barry Risk Management, Inc. today to complete your DMV needs!