NEW BRITAIN – The third day into a heat wave with a five-hour wait for some services, customers at the Department of Motor Vehicles New Britain branch Tuesday were not amused at the thought of returning to have a license renewed and then walking away with a paper copy until the real document was mailed to their home.
“If you have to sit here and wait for four hours, they should just give you your license,” said Ryan Desjardins, of Bristol. His mother Cheryl chimed in that they were told it would take about two-and-a-half hours to register a car and they had already waited two-and-a-half hours and expected to wait another two-and-a-half hours based on the number of people ahead of them.
State DMV officials are hailing the switch to the “Central Issuance” program which kicked off Wednesday in the Willimantic branch as a more secure way to protect people from identity fraud. The program, which is used in about two dozen states, will soon roll out throughout Connecticut. Under the Central Issuance initiative, people will have to renew their license in person at a DMV or AAA branch but they will walk away with a temporary paper copy until the actual license is mailed to them. The benefit is that licenses, which can be subject to identity fraud and other crimes, will be more secure with the new mailing system, DMV officials said.
The move comes as part of the federal Real ID Act and will include several upgraded security features, DMV officials said. In addition to renewals, people who are getting a new license, a state ID or renewing their state ID, must also show up at a DMV branch but will have their document mailed to them.
State officials are comfortable with the mailing process, said DMV Chief of Staff William Seymour. “People get passports, credit cards with high credit limits and checks through the mail every day,” Seymour said. “There’s nothing different than what is being done by other organizations that are sending high value documents.”
People will have to provide documentation that they are asking the DMV to send their license to their official address, Seymour said. The earlier someone opts to show up to have their license renewed, the earlier they will receive the card in the mail – which means there will be no need for a temporary license, he said. It could take up to 20 days to get the actual license in the mail. “We’re telling people as a matter of convenience that they should come at least a week before their birthday, Seymour said. “We mail out the renewal notices 45 to 60 days in advance of the expiration date.”
By next year the DMV will have a “skip-a-trip” plan in place that will allow people the opportunity to renew online once. The DMV has also instituted other ways to cut wait times by allowing people to go online to conduct certain transactions such as pay suspension fees and renew registrations. “We are looking to reduce wait times as much as possible,” he said.
Employees of all AAA branches throughout the state have been trained in the new method and so far there haven’t been any glitches, said Amy Parmenter, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for the AAA of Greater Hartford. All the equipment is the same that is used by DMV employees who have been onsite at AAA branches to make sure the transition goes smoothly, she said. “This is something that everyone wants to go well,” Parmenter said.
But after waiting more than four hours to get a license plate for a trailer Tuesday, Todd Camp, of Middletown, isn’t convinced it’s a better method. “My contractor renewals have been coming late,”
Camp said. “I’d hate to see that happen with this. What happens if you lose the paper license or it gets wet? I know they are trying to lighten the load but I don’t know how this is going to help.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.