Friday, Aug. 12, 2022|
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Slow lines and limited appointments continue to hinder service at the Hawaii Department of Motor Vehicles.
“We have an excessive shortage of staff,” said Naomi O’Dell, director of Vehicle Registration and Licensing for the Department of Finance. “For Vehicle Registration and Licensing, I believe we are 10 employees short, with three open positions in Hilo and seven in Kona.”
In an attempt to mitigate the backlog of driver’s license renewals, certain facilities have expanded their operating hours.
“The Hilo Drivers License Office will be opening on Saturdays on both May 14 and the 21,” said O’Dell, who noted the Kona office has been processing between 100 and 120 driver’s licenses on an average Saturday. “The appointments are open for Hawaii expired licenses and those that are expiring in the next 30 days.”
For license renewals, registration and title transfers, appointments are only being taken at the Pahoa and Kona offices. Hilo is accepting appointments for license renewals, but not for registrations and title transfers. Instead, the office started accepting walk-ins again on April 18, with O’Dell noting the average wait times for service is between one and two hours.
“The first two days were extremely busy, and we had long lines, but after that, the lines tapered down quite a bit,” said O’Dell. “It’s manageable for us.”
Vehicle registration renewals also can be completed at the DMV Now kiosks, located at the Hilo DMV on Pauahi Street, the Safeway in Hilo on Maka‘Ala Street, the Waimea DMV on Mamalahoa Highway, and at Waimea Foodland.
While open for walk-ins, the Hilo office has occasionally limited the number of individuals coming in due to its inability to process them by 4:30 p.m.
The deadline also is approaching for individuals to get a REAL ID, which will be required for those wanting to board domestic flights without a passport after May 2, 2023. O’Dell does not anticipate the requirement adding to the department’s current backlog.
“It’s not going into effect until May 2023, and I think a majority of people have the gold star on their license already,” she said. “With the exception of anybody who is renewing this year.”
Appointments for license renewals open over a rolling six-month period.
“Our appointment calendar will only book six months in advance, so it seems like we don’t have any appointments after then. But it’s just that the calendar hasn’t opened yet,” said O’Dell. “More slots open up the closer we get to the six-month period.”
To help lessen the backlog of license renewals following the pandemic, which climbed as high as 14,000 in September of last year, all counties are looking into creating online options and same-day appointment scheduling.
“We’re looking into different options to improve the appointment system, like options where you can make an appointment the same day,” said O’Dell. But online-only options are more challenging, with mandates requiring documents and paperwork to verify identification.
“We’re mandated to check documents and I think eventually that’s something that all the counties are looking into as a statewide initiative,” she said.
With Hilo now open for walk-ins, there has been a decrease in the backlog for both registrations and title transfers, with the DMV focusing on expiring licenses at the moment.
“It’s been a bit rough, but everybody is in the same boat as us because there seems to be a huge shortage of employees all over,” said O’Dell. “Our Department of Human Resources is working on that.”
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