Wait in line at the DMV lately? State says it’s making ‘modernization’ improvements

Another state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office is now accepting appointments for learner’s permit tests, according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

The step is part of an ongoing major computer upgrade at the DMV intended to enable businesses and customers to do more transactions online without going to a DMV office.

Old Saybrook now becomes the ninth DMV office to offer learner’s permit testing by appointment, joining Bridgeport, Danbury, Cheshire, Hamden, Norwalk, Waterbury, Wethersfield and Willimantic.

This test-by-appointment system is part of a new and growing service DMV started in 2012 to help customers avoid waiting in line.

Using ‘antiquated technology’

Malloy said “the current operating environment at DMV is 30 to 40 years old and does not provide the flexibility for ongoing state and federal changes that will be required in the future.

“Through DMV’s modernization program,” he said, “we are upgrading various pieces of antiquated technology and systems used throughout the agency in a manner that facilitates efficiency and practicality.”

Online scheduling is popular

The modernization program is bringing a number of different enhancements to DMV — and the most popular so far has been online scheduling of learner’s permit tests.

Other changes involve offering online services for certain registration renewal, checks on status of licenses and registrations, and look-ups for vanity plate combinations.

However, test-by-appointment is the most popular. More than 90% of customers who have visited the eight offices so far offering the service said they would recommend it to others.

‘Customer convenience’ is key

“We are making strong strides in this effort to turn around an old system that posed many inconveniences to customers,” said DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey.

“Customer convenience is at the heart of the reasons we are doing this upgrade ... These are also complex changes to be made and while some deadlines came and went, we have held steady on a path to success and the positive results are happening,” Currey said.

Changes that have been made

The modernization of DMV’s computers has paved the way for several other changes. In place already are:

— Learner’s permit testing by appointment.

— Leasing companies and car dealerships now have real-time connections to DMV computer; networks for registrations of customers purchasing vehicles.

— Checking driver’s license status.

— Check wait times online for DMV Offices.

— Fill out vehicle registration form online.

— Car dealers can now renew their business licenses online.

— Cancel lost or stolen license plates.

— Online renewal for certain registrations for owners who don’t owe property taxes, have late emissions tests due, and other kinds of issues that would prohibit the renewal of a registration;

— International Registration Plan (IRP) renewal payments for trucking companies.

— Registration look-up.

— Vanity plate look-up.

Upcoming improvements

Changes that should be in place by the end of the year are:

— Customers will be able to check online whether certain problems will cause trouble with a transaction at DMV. Problems include tax delinquencies, failure to have insurance, outstanding parking tickets and emissions test violations. This service will help fewer customers to be turned away at branches for these kinds of compliance issues.

— Improvements to the existing online registration renewal program.

— Reprint a registration certificate from a home or other computer.

— Cancel a registration online.

— Order online special plate, such as vanity plates.

— Order online replacements for mutilated plates.

— Provide new option online for customers to be contacted by DMV, either by mail or email.