AB 60 creates long lines, delays at DMV offices across the state

line at the DMV
A long line wraps around the Temecula Department of Motor Vehicle field office on Thursday, Jan. 29. J.P. Raineri photo

Long waits are nothing new for those paying a visit to any number of Department of Motor Vehicles’ field offices. However, since the implementation of AB 60 – the law that requires the DMV to issue an original driver license to undocumented aliens – those wait times have become worse than ever and that is something that probably won’t change anytime soon, according to DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez.
“It’s the new reality,” she said.
Numerous budget cuts over the past two decades brought about by the state’s struggling financial issues compounded with the passing of AB 60 in late 2014 have only made wait times worse for those needing to visit one of the department’s field offices.
A press release issued by the department on Jan. 28 reveals that since AB 60’s implementation on Jan. 2, more than 39,000 new licenses have been issued to people who cannot prove they are in the United States legally, 14,000 of those were issued last week alone and 279,000 AB 60 applicants have visited the DMV since implementation began, more than the total number of people in Temecula and Murrieta combined.
Those statistics are causing unique challenges for those who wish to renew a license, registration or conduct other business at the state run department, but DMV is working hard to minimize those impacts on those customers, Gonzalez said.
“We send out renewal notices several months in advance,” she said. “They are usually sent out 90 days early.”
Gonzalez said there are two ways DMV customers can minimize the impact on their time when conducting DMV business, make an appointment before they go and by utilizing the department’s website.
“We would never suggest someone just walk into the DMV, ever. Not even before AB 60. Always make an appointment,” she said. “You can make an appointment by phone or online.”
According to Gonzalez, there are over 20 services available online and those who utilize that tool will almost never have to step foot into one of the field offices.
Online services include vehicle registration and driver license renewals, driver record requests and even simple refunds.
The one group of customers who have been affected is teens who are getting their license for the first time.
Garret Upshaw, 16, of Murrieta has been waiting nearly a month for his appointment and still has 33 days to go before he gets his first chance at taking the written test.
“My mom made my appointment in January after I finished my online training, at that time they were booking into March,” he said. “It’s a long time to wait.”
According to Gonzalez, first time drivers, including those who are applying for licenses under AB 60 are all grouped together.
“Any teenager and all AB 60 applicants are all applying for a first time driver license,” she said. “They are all making an appointment for the same thing and we don’t have a separate appointment system for those applicants coming in under AB 60.”
Gonzalez said each DMV transaction is booked under a different category so things like license renewal, lost licenses or registration renewals are separate categories, meaning someone who is looking to complete one of the aforementioned tasks shouldn’t have to wait as long as someone who is applying for a driver license for the first time.
“It just depends and we are constantly assessing our appointment availability in all our field offices so if we find that something is super popular and really filling up and people are waiting much longer to get the appointment we will free up more appointment availability options,” she said.
Gonzalez also suggests that those wishing to conduct business in a field office keep their options open and look at other field offices within their area.
“A lot of time we work with other field offices in the region so let’s say we have a lot of original driver license at one office, then we will free up license or registration renewals at another office,” she said. “We have been working with different offices within certain areas to help service a community.”
Bottom line, those in need of services should make their appointments early, Gonzalez said.
For more information, visit www.DMV.ca.gov.

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