Public Safety Does It Again with Long Delays for Driver’s Licenses

Minnesota motorists can’t get a break. The Dayton Administration’s Department of Public Safety continues to struggle to salvage the disastrous roll-out of the motor and vehicle registration system that has rivaled the MNsure state health exchange  for technical malfeasance.  Nearly a year and a half later, the so-called MNLARS system remains tens of millions of dollars over budget and in dire need of expensive technical triage.

Yet now comes word via the Star Tribune that many applicants for new driver’s licences face their own frustrating delays in customer service for road tests and licenses.

New driver Priscilla Thomas said the state told her it’s a six-month wait for road tests at the Eagan exam station.

“The customer service rep said the only place that had appointments available in the next three months was Grand Marais! Just a five-hour drive away,” she said via e-mail.

Thomas, of Eagan, works full time and has a 3-year-old child in day care, “so arriving at 4 a.m. and lining up outside the DMV all day” trying to squeeze in an appointment for a road test is not an option.

The backup mainly affects the 40 percent of Minnesotans applying for a new license.  But as always, DPS has a ready excuse.

[Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce] Gordon said new applications must undergo an additional review by the department — one not required for renewals or duplicates if a license is lost or destroyed. “This can take between several weeks to several months,” he said.

 Gordon said the issue doesn’t affect those renewing their driver’s license because they don’t require the same type of enhanced review. Renewals and requests for duplicate licenses, which account for about 60 percent of all applications, are typically received within two weeks, he said.

The state has added staff to address the backlog and doubled the length of temporary licenses to four months. Yet even some routine license renewals appear to be getting mired down in the state’s system.

Emma Strub of northeast Minneapolis said she applied to renew her license in mid-August but has yet to receive a permanent one. She said she repeatedly tried calling the DVS information line but couldn’t get through.

“I did not expect to be waiting now 10 weeks for something that should have taken six to eight [weeks] max,” Strub said via Twitter.

It’s almost enough to make you long for the good old days when you only stood in line for a few hours, rather than wait weeks or months, at Driver and Vehicle Services.