N.C. DMV makes changes as driver license wait times mount

WBTV Investigates: Why is it so hard to get a driver’s license?
WBTV Investigates: Why is it so hard to get a driver’s license?
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 4:49 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Socoro Smith got in line at the University-area DMV driver’s license office around 6:30 one recent morning. She was number 23 in line. The office didn’t open for another half hour.

By 7:45 a.m. a DMV employee told her she likely wouldn’t be seen that day.

It was her third trip to the office. All she wanted to do was change her address. She tried to do it online but said she didn’t want to pay the extra $3 fee.

While Smith and more than a dozen other people waited in line outside, dozens of chairs sat empty inside. Staff wouldn’t allow the walk-in customers indoors, though.

👉 What’s the longest time you’ve ever waited at the DMV? Join the conversation!

Across town, Mo Kana was with his sister on her second trip to the driver’s license office off Brookshire Freeway. They got to the parking lot, saw the line, and decided to head home in hopes a future trip – their third – would bring better luck and a shorter line.

These are problems playing out at DMV offices across the Charlotte region each day. The WBTV tip line has gotten multiple calls from people frustrated that they can’t get a driver’s license.

We took those complaints N.C. DMV Commissioner Wayne Goodwin who outlined a series of changes being made in hopes of cutting down on the long lines.

“I am not satisfied that we are where we need to be,” Goodwin said in an interview.

That’s why, he said, the DMV has rolled out a number of changes at driver’s license offices across the state, including the following:

-You can check in at a driver’s license office on your phone and wait in your car

-Starting May 1, driver’s license offices only see appointments in the morning. Examiners will see only walk-in customers after noon.

-You can check the wait times at any location in the state on the DMV’s website

-Some DMV driver’s license office locations will resume Saturday hours during the summer

“I think the changes, collectively, will help,” Goodwin said.

Even with the changes, though, the DMV faces a staggering staffing shortage in the Charlotte area.

Of the five DMV driver’s license office locations in Mecklenburg County, three of them are at or under 40% staffed.

“If we were fully staffed, we could meet the needs that we determined years ago,” Goodwin said, before noting that the DMV’s needs continue to grow as people continue to move to North Carolina.

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