RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – If there’s one thing driver’s dread, it’s a long wait at the DMV’s office.
“It… it can be better,” said Mark Jones who left the DMV location on New Bern Avenue Thursday afternoon.
Jones and others leaving and entering the DMV building shared their enthusiasm and hopes of shorter wait times following a provision within the state’s new budget bill. The measure specifically extends the driver’s license renewal period from eight to 16 years for drivers between the ages of 18 to 65 years old. Drivers 66 years and older will still need to renew their license every five years.
“I think it would probably be a little quicker and people wouldn’t have to come here and wait in line like on cold days or hot days because at some DMV’s you’ll be standing outside,” Jones said.
The measure also allows more renewals online.
Yussif Fofanah who also visited the DMV office on Thursday believes it will give DMV staff a break with less visits.
“Anything that’s better for the consumer is always a good thing,” said Fofanah.
Not so sure change is good
North Carolina DMV Commissioner, Wayne Goodwin, said the changes could create a big problem.
“It sounds great. It says that not only do you not have to renew your license for 16 years, but then it says that when you renew it, you don’t have to go back to the to the DMV at all. The problem is, there’s a compliance issue,” Goodwin said.
The commissioner said the portion of the bill goes against federal law and the state’s compliance with the federal REAL ID law that requires driver’s licenses and identification cards to not exceed eight years and a photo of the applicant to be replaced at least every 16 years.
“There is a concern that if we don’t see a tweaking of this of this legislation, then North Carolina may have to stop issuing REAL IDs, which means everybody who needs a REAL ID will have to buy a passport,” said Goodwin.
With the longer renewal period, Goodwin said customers will have to double upfront costs when renewing their license to cover the 16 years that the credential is valid. The DMV Commissioner said the longer expiration date will also open doors to serious security issues.
DMV Communications Manager, Marty Homan, with the North Carolina Department of Transportation said DMVs update designs often to limit counterfeit and fraudulent activity. He said counterfeiting attempts significantly increase approximately five years from the date a design is first released and the longer a version is in circulation.
Goodwin said he voiced concerns about the problem earlier in the spring to legislators but said wording in the document has stayed the same.
“As always, our top goals are to shorten lines and shorten wait times. So we’ve been working on implementing new policies, procedures, new technology, expanding hours, hiring more staff, doing all those things to help,” said Goodwin.
He said the solution is not adjusting expiration dates.
Goodwin added, “There are other ways to do that. You know, raising salaries for our staff, helping us fill more vacancies, authorizing more staff at new offices, and of course, going online with all the 22 services we provide already.”