Want the MVC made easier? We’ve got good news (Guest column)
The following guest column is by Sue Fulton, chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
I read with interest host Judi Franco’s opinion piece on Monday that focused on some of the frustrations of MVC services since we reopened back in July, following a nearly four-month closure due to the COVID pandemic. While I appreciate the frustrations Ms. Franco highlighted, your readers and listeners should know that we think that Ms. Franco’s suggestions make sense. So much so, in fact, that many of those changes were already made.
First and foremost, Ms. Franco notes that “all licenses and registrations should be able to be renewed online.’’
Last year, most driver license renewals – as well as replacements – were made available online, just as registration renewals had been for years. During the pandemic, we added another 20 categories of vehicles to online registration renewal.
And just this month, on Sept. 10, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that makes your photo valid for an additional four years. The primary effect of this new law is that nearly everyone with a basic license, non-driver ID, or REAL ID due for renewal can now renew online, even if their notice says they must visit an agency.
But for our state’s senior citizens, the news is even better. Once a resident driver hits age 65, they will never have to set foot in one of our agencies again for a renewal – the last photo they took with us will be valid forever! This was done to reduce lines and keep our seniors safe during this pandemic and limit their trips in a post-pandemic future.
Ms. Franco also called for more forms to be put online, and we have made inroads there. Just last month, we announced that we put most of our forms online (and fillable), so that customers could fill them out before coming to an agency.
And in regards to Ms. Franco’s reference to road tests, customers don’t need to wait for them – they are scheduled online. Driver knowledge tests are scheduled online, too. Appointments are available for either within a day or two.
As to the long lines, there is never a reason to camp out overnight. We open at 8 a.m. and at that time customers will receive a ticket. We’ll take your number, you can go about your business, and we’ll text you about 20 minutes before your service so you can make your way back.
Unfortunately, the video of the line outside our Springfield agency referenced by Ms. Franco – while accurate for the time of the morning that it was shot, around 7 a.m. – is not the state of things at our agencies. Any line formed outside during business hours is a result of shifting ticketed customers outside of facilities to avoid packed rooms inside our facilities.
It is a fact that we were still handing out tickets for same-day service that day to customers arriving at 11 a.m., fully five hours after the photo of a line that had long since disappeared once the tickets were given out.
We fully understand the frustration experienced by our customers. It is difficult to get to the agency at 7 or 8 a.m., and you will need to come back for your service. But unless you are a new driver, or subject to federal regulations like CDLs, visas, or REAL ID, you can take care of your license online. Unless you purchased a used car from a private seller, you shouldn’t have to come to a Vehicle Center. There is a ton of information at NJMVC.gov – check it out before you decide to pitch a tent outside one of our agencies for no reason!
I know Ms. Franco has visited our Eatontown agency in the pre-COVID days and had a great experience, and we’re grateful she shared that.
Our employees are working hard, day in and day out, to improve the customer experience at the MVC, while keeping our roads safe and protecting New Jerseyans from fraud and identity theft. We are working every day to reduce the long lines, and we will never stop striving to make things better for all our customers.