Much-needed relief is coming to several DMV offices in California. Last week, the agency announced 17 of its offices will begin to offer Saturday hours.
For DMV customers in Santa Maria, Paso Robles and Lompoc, locations there will remain closed on weekends.
Previously, DMV opened weekend hours in San Luis Obispo on the first and third Saturday each month.
The recent announcement comes as a direct response to increased wait times at DMV offices.
The DMV said in a press release, “The DMV has been experiencing longer wait times due to a number of factors, including the implementation of the federal REAL ID requirement, a new queuing system and an electronic driver license and ID card application. Increased Saturday service is part of the department’s strategy to ease wait times in field offices, as well as reconfiguring the queueing system and extending office hours at 14 locations.”
In effort to quicken service time, 17 offices will now open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays starting on August 4. The closest location to the Central Coast with new weekend hours is Visalia.
In Santa Maria, customers have long been frustrated with long wait times.
“The experience is horrible,” said Jennifer Devito. “You have to wait. There’s always waiting in lines.”
Devito spend a large portion of her Monday waiting outside the building with her young son.
Since moving to Santa Maria from Long Island, New York late last year, she’s had to visit the office several times.
“I get a headache every time I have to go to the DMV,” said Devito. “I come home with a headache.”
When told DMV was opening extra hours at several locations, but not in Santa Maria, Devito expressed disappointment and frustration.
“It doesn’t make to me,” Devito said. “It doesn’t, considering the line is usually wrapped around the building too, so they should open on Saturday, so that way people aren’t waiting as long.”
Devito added she would welcome the opportunity to come in during the weekend, instead of during the work week.
“An extra day would help get even more appointments in. They set up 10 appointments at the same time,” said Devito. “They definitely should open up Saturdays in Santa Maria. I overall think it would a great idea.”
DMV said the 17 locations selected were chosen on certain criteria, such as current wait times, transaction totals, office size and parking.
Data provided by DMV said the average daily number of customers in Santa Maria last month was 238, who waited on average 1 hour 10 minutes.
On Monday, Joel Arellano waited much longer.
“My experience has been awful,” said Arellano. “I’ve been here since 10 o’clock in the morning and it’s already 2 o’clock and I’m still waiting.”
Arellano said he waited so long he had to take an entire day off from work.
“It’s costing me a day off and I’m making no money today,” said Arellano. “Just imagine if you make $25 an hour. It’s $200 less, plus what you’re going to pay at the DMV. You’re not making money, you’re going down.”
He would like to see weekend hours so people who work a regular shift can use their free time at the office, instead of using vacation, sick or unpaid time off.
“They should open up on Saturdays because a lot of people work Monday through Friday and Saturday is a good time for a lot of people to come and do this kind of stuff,” said Arellano.
While Santa Maria will not have Saturday hours in the immediate future, there is a possibility it may happen eventually.
DMV will monitor wait times at all of its offices, the amount of customers served during Saturday service and service levels. The agency will later determine if there is a need to provide extra hours to additional offices.
In addition to the Saturday hours, DMV will open up one hour earlier at 7 a.m at 14 other statewide locations. However, Santa Maria was not selected for the early start time.
DMV also previously announced it will construct a new office on Santa Maria Way in the future.
Currently, the project is in the preliminary phase. Construction is scheduled to begin June 2020. DMV is planning to open its new Santa Maria office in September 2021.