At the DMV Monday, Shorter Lines and Calmer Tempers

Visitors line up to speak to clerks at the Midtown Manhattan Department of Motor Vehicles on Monday morning. (Photo: Hayley FitzPatrick)

At 8 a.m. Monday, the doors of the Midtown Manhattan Department of Motor Vehicles open and hundreds of people pour in to endure lines with wait times ranging from just minutes to hours. Many must miss work and make other accommodations because of lengthy waiting periods.

This DMV, located on West 31st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, is typically busy. According to the most recent Wait Time Study, the average wait time for someone visiting a New York-based DMV is just under 35 minutes. The study also found that centers are busiest between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, aware of DMV’s reputation, promised in January 2015 that he’d push for shorter wait times. A press release at that time showed on the waits decreasing from 72 minutes in 2013 to just over a half an hour two years later.

Kenny Deakins, who is originally from Pennsylvania and currently lives in Manhattan, visited the DMV on Monday morning to get his out-of-state license switched to New York. He said wait times at the Midtown Manhattan DMV are significantly lower than his home state’s DMV, where he sometimes had to wait for up to two hours.

“Some Pennsylvania DMV’s are hell,” said Deakins. “I thought it was going to be worse here because it’s a big city…. I was expecting like an hour. I gotta get to work!”

Another driver, Nicholas Ebba from the Bronx, arrived at the DMV early to get his license renewed. He expected the wait to be around 30 to 45 minutes but was helped in around 20 minutes.

A man fills out paperwork on Monday morning at the Midtown Manhattan DMV. (Photo: Hayley FitzPatrick)

Crystal Rivera, who works at the Midtown Manhattan Department of Motor Vehicles, said wait times are shortest around 8 a.m. when the office opens.

Making an appointment in advance can cut wait times. The DMV’s reservation system, created in 2014, has played a large role in decreasing wait times.