NCDMV working to reduce wait times ahead of REAL ID push

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the holidays around the corner, some people may use their time off to run errands.

One of those errands may be getting the new REAL ID at the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Driver Allain Ngam wasn’t excited to head to the DMV this week.

“I was expecting at least an hour to an hour and a half coming here,” said Ngam.

He said last time he spent 3.5 hours at the DMV.

The visit to replace his commercial drivers license only took him 30 minutes.

“I have a very good feeling about it because when you save time like that you can go do something else, so that’s very good,” said Ngam.

The DMV pushed for shorter wait times in 2019.

“Last year was a challenging year,” said Michael Newsome, regional chief examiner for driver services of DMV.

The DMV did pilot initiatives in 29 offices across the state this year.

“I would say it exceeded our expectations,” said Newsome. “A lot of it has to do with employee morale going up.”

CBS 17 found out average wait times went down by 19 percent from May 2018 to May 2019.

In June, the wait time was down 31 percent. In July, it was down 42 percent.

In August, it was down 51 percent.

The DMV said they also had 131,000 more customers this year than in 2018.

“Being proactive better prepares us and it prepares the public,” said Newsome.

Not everyone’s feeling the progress though.

“I’m an understanding person. I sat 2.5 hours in a chair,” said resident Gere Gray.

Gray said when she finally got to the counter to renew her license, the worker only told her she’d want a star on her ID, or the REAL ID, if she deals with the federal government.

She didn’t realize that meant going through airports.

Gray came back the next day to change it.

After waiting more than an hour, she said the employee told her she first needs a new marriage license since hers doesn’t have a seal.

“This is just ridiculous for them not to accept, I mean it’d be different if I had questionable other things, but I don’t,” said Gray.

DMV workers say May-August is their busiest time. The upcoming holidays aren’t the best time to beat the crowds either.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a good time,” said Newsome. “I’d say plan ahead. If you’re thinking of the idea of being off and going to the DMV, then many others are thinking the same thing.”

Newsome said whenever you decide to go, try to make an appointment first.

The REAL ID is required by October 2020.

That’s only needed if you plan to fly without a passport or visit federal installations.

DMV workers say there’s no reason to panic.

For more information on the REAL ID, click here.

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