Businesses making profits from booking appointments at California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) might soon face a fine of up to thousands of dollars under a new bill proposed on Jan. 31.
AB 317, which was authored by newly-elected Assemblymember Tyler Diep (R-Westminster), prohibits any person, firm, corporation, or association to sell or offer for sale an appointment with the DMV. The penalty is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $2,500.
“I introduced my first piece of legislation today—AB 317,” said Assemblymember Diep in a statement on Facebook. “This bill will prohibit companies from selling DMV appointments to make a profit.”
Last summer, a company named YoGov started selling services including making faster appointments online and allowing customers to hire someone to wait in line for them at the DMV, as wait times at the DMV rose to an unbearable degree in many areas.
“Government is supposed to treat everyone equally, regardless of how much they can afford to pay,” said Assemblyman Diep, who believes paying for a government appointment is unfair for people who cannot afford it.
“In reality, our service is the equivalent to having your receptionist or personal assistant check the DMV website hoping to find a last-minute opening or cancellation for you,” the company states.
In addition, YoGov claims their services are beneficial to the community and save other people time at the DMV.
“We conducted a survey last year that showed that of the general public that visited the DMV, 20% of respondents had to make a 2nd trip to the DMV for the same service,” the company said. “Then, we surveyed our users and found that 97% were able to resolve their DMV needs in a single visit, which is a 17% increase over the general public.”
In September 2018, Assemblymember Jim Patterson, who advocated for an audit of the DMV, pointed out that the department had 35 outages in the last 18 months and the longest wait time was nine hours long.
One month later, an independent audit of the DMV was called for after the department admitted that around 1,500 people, including non-citizen individuals, were wrongly registered to vote through the Motor Voter program during the period from April 23 to Sept. 25.
The issue, however, got more serious after then-director Jean Shiomoto revealed that the DMV failed to transmit 589 voter records to elections officials before the November election, which could have prevented those people from voting.
“The Motor Voter program has had serious and concerning problems since its rollout in April 2018,” stated a letter wrote by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, Vince Fong, Kevin Kiley, and Tom Lackey. “The Department has acknowledged making 105,000 registration errors, including mishandling voter registration information for 23,000 drivers and double-registering as many as 77,000 others.”