150,000 California Drivers Experience Delays up to Months When Renewing Their Licenses : DMV

February 12, 2019 Updated: February 12, 2019

California’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) confirmed on Feb. 12 that about 150,000 drivers have experienced delays in renewing their licenses or identification cards over the past five months as the department encountered “an issue with renewals conducted online and by mail.”

The problem was revealed last week as the DMV acknowledged that tens of thousands of people who renewed their license from last September to early February online or by mail didn’t receive their identification in the period that is usually expected.

“At first, the DMV believed the problem was isolated to customers who completed their renewal shortly after receiving their notice,” the department said in a written statement.”Upon closer examination, the DMV discovered the renewal issues impacted a broader range of customers who renewed during that time period.”

Since last summer, the DMV has been struggling to reduce excessive wait times that the department believes has been caused by a massive number of applications for Real ID, which is a federally approved identification for boarding airplanes.

In order to provide Californians with more time to apply for a Real ID and to book an appointment, the DMV decided to issue license renewal notices much earlier than usual.

As a result, people whose licenses were scheduled to expire in September 2018 got their renewal notices 90 to 120 days earlier than needed. Later in November, the time period was increased to 120 to 150 days before the expiration.

“Unfortunately, this well-intentioned effort to help our customers created unforeseen complications in renewals conducted online and by mail that resulted in the new license not being issued,” the statement said.

The issue came up when people tried to renew their licenses after receiving the renewal notices but the DMV was only able to process licenses that expired within 115 days, according to a report from the Napa Valley Register.

A Twitter user named Benita Lim said on Feb. 9 that she has been waiting for her driver’s license for more than 3 months. Another user named Tominscv said he had been dealing with a similar issue for almost 4 months after being charged $30 for the renewal.

Furthermore, some drivers have had to pay again because no transaction record of their online or mail application was found in the DMV’s system.

“This is how the DMV operates—deny, downplay and hope everyone forgets just how frustrated they were,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who has called an independent audit of the department last year. “Thanks to social media and great reporting, they can’t hide from the truth. This calls into question their ability to complete the simplest of tasks.”

In the statement, the DMV said all of the 150,000 delayed applications are expected to be processed by the end of Tuesday, Feb. 12.  People affected will receive their new identification within two to three weeks.

Meanwhile, the DMV said they have prioritized the renewal requests of those who have expired or soon to expire licenses. Their identifications will be delivered as soon as possible.

The department said it has also notified law enforcement of the delay in issuing new licenses.

“The DMV apologizes for any inconvenience this issue might have caused and is committed to quickly resolving this issue,” the department concluded in the statement.