…then you really don’t want to read this story.
It’s related by an alert “06880” reader named Jill. Last week her 16-year-old son Jon went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get his learner’s permit. Jill took the day off to accompany him.
Literally, the day off.
Unknown to anyone — except everyone needing to go there — on August 12, the DMV “regionalized” certain services. That includes testing for permits, road tests and out-of-state license transfers.
Those services are no longer offered in 8 offices — including, unfortunately for “06880” readers, Norwalk.
Only 4 DMV offices in the entire state now offer obtain permits and driver’s licenses. Westport: meet Bridgeport.
Here is Jill’s story. It is not pretty.
We arrived at 12:45, and got on line. When you get to the front, you tell a woman why you are there. She tells you what you need to have.
(A friend of Jon’s spent 4 hours waiting, only to be turned away because he didn’t have an actual Social Security card — only the number. The next day, he got a note from the Social Security office saying his card was in the mail. He went back to DMV — and was told the note was not a “sufficient form of secondary ID.” He finally succeeded — after going home to get his religious school confirmation papers.)
You then take a picture, to ensure it is actually you who are waiting. They also assign you a number.
We were “B-485.” They were up to “B-353.” I asked for an estimate. She said she was afraid to tell me. I asked her to ballpark it. She said it could be 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I said, “Not too bad.”
She replied, “Or maybe more…”
Since Jon had just finished soccer camp and was hungry, we decided to go out for food. We had pizza, and got back an hour later. They were up to 377.
The numbers picked up a bit, but at 3 p.m. the “B”s ground to a halt. I finished my Kindle book and got up to check out lines 10-14, which had been servicing the “B”s (all licenses, I believe).
One person was working. All the rest were on break.
25 minutes later, the lines began to move again.
At 4 p.m. they announced they were no longer accepting new people for testing. Anyone who arrived after that was turned away. One mother lamented that she’d been there since 10, waiting for her son to get his license. I felt so sorry for her. Little did I know…
At 4:50 our number was finally called. We got to the counter with the correct documents. Jon wanted to get back to the evening session of soccer camp, so I asked if — because we’d already waited — we could get a “fast pass” to return another day to take the test.
We were told no. Since we were already 4 hours in, we decided to finish the arduous task. Total time at the counter was 2 minutes. I’m not sure why this process goes so slowly, except maybe many people have the wrong paperwork.
We went to line 19. We waited another 75 minutes before Jon could take his vision test (5 seconds), and the computerized 25-question test.
Because he’d had 5 hours to study, he got the first 20 correct, and was done. Total time: 5 minutes.
We were sent back around the corner to sit and wait for our name to be called again: 20 minutes. We paid another fee, then waited again to take a picture.
By this time the front part of the DMV was pretty empty. The people behind the desk were working very efficiently, as they all wanted to go home.
We got the picture and permit back in 40 minutes. Earlier, people had waited well over an hour for the picture portion to be done. (Others waited 6 hours to change their New York license to Connecticut. All they needed was an eye test: 3 seconds.)
We left at 6:54. Total time: 6 hours and 9 minutes.
I did meet 2 really nice inspectors (they do the driving tests). Both complained about how awful it’s been all week. They say that everyone getting a permit or license from Greenwich to Guilford now comes to the Bridgeport DMV.
Both could care less about the overtime. They just want to go home. They also want all of us to complain, and get this situation fixed.
They confirmed what I thought: The state is likely not saving a cent with all of the overtime they’re paying. As we left, one jokingly grabbed my shoulders and said, “Take me with you!”
Jill says she can’t imagine what will happen when the school year begins, and students will spend an entire day waiting.
That’s a good point. However, it’s not like they’ll miss out on their education. In fact, they’ll get a real-life lesson: in the way the actual bureaucratic, government world works.