California

All California DMV offices will shut down for a half a day in July. Here’s why

California DMV customers angry over rising wait times

Customers across California are experiencing rising wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles. People at the Sacramento South field office on July 26, 2018 were particularly frustrated.
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Customers across California are experiencing rising wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles. People at the Sacramento South field office on July 26, 2018 were particularly frustrated.

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles announced on Monday it will close all of its offices for half a day on July 24 to train workers on the federally mandated Real ID program.

Government Operations Agency Secretary Marybel Batjer, who is leading Gov. Gavin Newsom’s DMV strike team, called the step “extraordinary” but said it was necessary to ensure workers get consistent information so they accurately process requests.

“It is a complicated transaction and we want customers to be well prepared in order to receive their Real ID efficiently,” Batjer said in a statement.

Offices will open at 1 p.m. after the training session.

The Real ID program requires all U.S. eligible residents to get the updated ID card if they want to board airplanes or enter other federal facilities without a passport after Oct. 1, 2020.

California has struggled to implement the program since its January 2018 launch. It has provided at least one incorrect Real ID card to a Californian with a temporary immigration status, according to records obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

It’s also asking 3.6 million Californians who already applied for Real ID cards to submit more information to confirm their home addresses because the state’s initial proof of residency requests did not meet Department of Homeland Security guidelines. DMV officials have said they were given guidance from the federal government that changed. In most cases, Californians merely have to return a letter from the DMV to confirm their addresses.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, agreed with the DMV’s decision to close its offices. He’s been an outspoken critic of the department’s recent technology and customer service challenges.

“Unfortunately, the DMV is in the kind of mess that requires this kind of statewide training,” Patterson said in a statement. “We can’t get to the DMV of the 21st century until we start retraining employees and getting up to date technology. ... We need to train the DMV employees so they know everything about the REAL ID and can answer all the questions with the best customer service around.”

This week, lawmakers will vote on a proposal to launch an outside investigation into the DMV’s implementation of Real ID. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee is scheduled to hold the hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Capitol.

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.
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