TRENTON, NJ — To speed up wait times at New Jersey motor vehicle locations, Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation to make it easier for seniors and persons who cannot wear face masks to renew their licenses, and to extend deadlines for new residents to register vehicles and obtain driver’s licenses.
In an effort to avoid a trip to a Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) agency, seniors age 65 and older will be allowed to use stored photos to renew their standard driver’s license or standard identification card on line. The law also extends MVC usage of all stored photographs from eight to 12 years.
In addition, MVC agencies will have designated appointment times for seniors and individuals who are medically unable to wear face masks to register a newly purchased or acquired, or transferred motor vehicle. To be eligible for these visits, persons opting to not wear a face covering will be required to show proof of their medical condition from a physician.
Persons who have moved to New Jersey during the current coronavirus public health emergency now have 120 days — up from 60 days — to get their license or vehicle registration.
For real-time updates on agencies that have reached their daily capacity, click here.
Since MVC reopened its facilities on July 7 following a three-month COVID-19 closure, customers continue to endure long waits at many locations for in-person transactions.
During Murphy's September 11 press briefing, MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton launched into damage control, painting a picture of 1,200 MVC employees around the state toiling to meet public demand and maintain safety protocols enacted in response to the health crisis.
“We know that no one wakes up in the morning excited, ‘Today’s the day I get to go to the DMV,’” Fulton said. “We know everyone loves to hate Motor Vehicles. And we know during this pandemic it’s been very difficult. The lines have been awful. I’ve been out there. I’ve heard the complaints. I’ve heard the suggestions.
“We’ve tried to help people. There are special situations where we are able to deal with someone who has a disability. For seniors, for people who are immuno-compromised, we deal with those situations one on one. But, our folks have been working tirelessly to implement new systems, process transactions faster than before and keep everyone safe.”
Fulton said that at some of the 39 agency locations across the state, workers are more efficiently serving the public than before the COVID-19 pandemic forced their closure, creating a backlog of work.
For instance, in 2019, the commission was processing an average of 240,000 transactions per week. Fulton said that in recent weeks, the agency has done between 250,000 and 285,000.
This can be partly attributed to MVC’s decision to move 20 or so vehicle transactions online and expand payment options. In 2019, less than 40 percent of vehicle registrations and 20 percent of license renewals were done online. Since the MVC reopened June 29, almost 70 percent of registrations and 55 percent of license renewals are done on the MVC website.
Fulton also said that average wait times for road tests, driver knowledge tests, commercial driver license testing and inspections are all down to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Although Fulton doesn’t seem to take it personally when New Jersey residents trash the MVC on social media, Fulton does have an issue with some misinformation perpetuated through Facebook and the like.
She emphasized that residents don’t have to camp out at agency sites and don’t need to stand online all day. MVC issues tickets to those in line at 8 a.m. Workers will take residents' phone numbers and contact them when they’re ready to serve them.
She said this system has been safe and effective, even as paperwork from the booming used car business increase the workload for the MVC.
“I think you’ve been very good about this and hats off to you and your colleagues who are chopping through a once-in-a-century tsunami and backlog,” Murphy said. “I know when folks say they are frustrated, you don’t back down from that. You share their frustration and you know that getting folks the answers that they need, particularly the how.”
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