Residents needing to renew their driver’s license face months of waiting due to a backlog of appointments at the county Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division.
There are 14,160 licenses that have expired between 2019 and August 2021. The division, known informally as the DMV, is working to renew them as quickly as possible — although appointments in Hilo are not available until January 2022.
According to Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation issued on Aug. 5, driver’s licenses, non-CDL permits and state identifications, which expired on or after March 16, 2020, will remain valid through Oct. 4.
“Depending on this next month, we’re hoping Gov. Ige extends the extension,” said county Finance Director Deanna Sako. “When he extended it for the last time, the case numbers weren’t that high, so a lot of things have changed.”
Most appointments for license renewals are not available until 2022 in Hilo, Ka‘u and Kailua-Kona, but there is some availability in 2021 at the Pahoa and Waimea locations.
The county is asking that appointment dates be made as close to the license expiration date as possible and encourages those with expired, or soon-to-be expired, licenses to try to walk-in for an appointment at the Hilo or Kailua-Kona locations.
“We are allowing walk-ins in Hilo and Kona for renewals, but it depends on staffing,” said Steven Hunt, deputy director of finance. “If people call in sick, then we can’t have walk-ins because there just aren’t enough employees.”
Although the county is considering creating a call center for Vehicle Registration and Licensing, more staff members are needed at the DMV locations.
“Those wanting an appointment should look into all five locations,” Hunt said. “Renewals and out-of-state transfers should only be done if they expire this year, so everyone who needs to get it done quickly has the chance to do so.”
About 5,931 more licenses will expire September through December, so making appointments or scheduling time to walk in will become important if Gov. Ige does not authorize another expiration date extension.
The REAL ID enforcement date has been extended until May 3, 2023, so residents can continue to travel with a credential that is not marked with a “gold star” after Oct. 1.
Those needing take a road test or permit test still face a waiting period, but not nearly as long as for license renewals.
“Tests for instruction permits have appointments available about three months out, and there are some road tests available in October, November and December,” Hunt said. “We want to encourage people taking road tests to read all the requirements needed, including bringing your own sanitizer and face masks.
“We are fearful of our employees getting sick in this division, because of our need for them. We urge anyone who does feel sick to stay home,” Hunt included.
People needing to renew their vehicle registration can make an appointment or use new DMV kiosks, which are located at the County of Hawaii Aupuni Center lobby, the Waimea Foodland and the Hilo and Kona Safeway stores.
Residents can make appointments for everything except road tests at www.hawaiicounty.gov/renewal.
Road test appointments can be made at https://hawaiicounty.ehawaii.gov/roadtest/wf/index.html#!/main.
More information on vehicle registration and licensing can be found at www.hawaiicounty.gov/departments/finance/vehicle-registration-licensing.
Email Kelsey Walling at email@example.com