San Francisco

Long Lines and Waits at Bay Area DMVs Due to New ID Rules

Hundreds of people braved seemingly endless lines Monday at DMV offices across the Bay Area over new ID rules.

Officials with the DMV say their employees are spending excessive amounts of time explaining the new federal Real ID, and the delays in helping people get their new driver's licenses is impacting everyone visiting the agency, even those seeking a simple vehicle registration renewal.

The DMV office in South San Jose had a line wrapped around the building. It took 18-year-old Michaiyha Johnson nearly five hours to get her driver's license.

"It's pretty frustrating, and it's really hot," Johnson said.

After steering away from long DMV lines in Los Gatos and Gilroy, Gary Swanson chose the Santa Teresa office. He said he's glad he brought his chair because the line there wasn't any shorter than the previous two.

"So far, it's not working out at all," Swanson said. "Every line in the South Bay is long. It's terrible, the wait times."

The problem was not exclusive to the South Bay as customers at DMV offices across the Bay Area reported 2-3-hour wait times. One woman waited nearly two hours even with an appointment.

"I had to miss a day of work," San Jose resident Amir Jaston said.

The DMV blamed the long lines and long waits on their offices implementing the new federal Real ID program, an effort to standardize driver's licenses across all 50 states.

Starting in October 2020, U.S. residents need a Real ID or passport to fly.

DMV officials say the agency is working on speeding up the process.

"The DMV has hired nearly 400 new employees statewide and 166 people this month," spokeswoman Jennifer Gonzalez said. "And if you are in the office by 5, a lot of these people will help you until 7 p.m."

Many people hope the agency will do a better job of posting accurate wait times online. One San Francisco woman drove down to San Jose to avoid the long lines only to find more.

"It's frustrating because you look online and have an expectation of one time, and then it ends up being double or triple that," Jasmine S. said.

The DMV suggests customers go online and look up the exact documents they need for their transaction, and the department posted checklists to help out. Appointments are also recommended, but there's also a lengthy backlog there.

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