What to Know
- The unrelenting long lines facing customers hoping to set foot inside one of New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission has prompted Gov. Murphy to make some changes
- All expiring licenses, registrations, inspections, etc. have been given an extension, some of which will last through the end of the year
- Some hoping to get in early have resorted to sleeping outside and waiting in line overnight in front of offices, something the governor discouraged
After days of seeing New Jersey residents sweat it out as they wait in hours-long lines at the Motor Vehicles Commission — sometimes to only be turned away — Gov. Phil Murphy instituted some changes that may allow people to return at another time.
Most notably, expired or expiring documents will be receiving extensions, some of which will last through the end of the year. Standard drivers licenses, learners permits, non-driver IDs, vehicle registrations, inspections stickers and temporary tags are among the items receiving extensions.
Any of those documents that expired between March 13 and May 31 were extended to September 30, according to the MVC. Documents expiring between June and August 31 were extended to December 31. Commercial drivers licenses had previously been extended to September 30.
Another big step taken to help cut down on the overwhelming demand includes each MVC office establishing a number of total customers that can be seen the following day, and only giving out tickets up to that number. Those who don't get a ticket will be asked to return another day, according to the MVC.
The department will also give preference at licensing centers to new drivers, who will receive the first of the aforementioned tickets assuming they have completed the requirements for a new permit or license. Drivers already with licenses will be served after that, the MVC said.
Earlier in the week, the agencies were expanded to operate six days a week. In order to help make that more feasible and to avoid being understaffed, Murphy said he was exempting MVC personnel from any work furloughs.
"After three months of pent up demand, I completely understand the frustration felt by every MVC customer forced to wait in long lines," Murphy said in announcing the exemption. That will allow for full staffing, and will forgo plans to close licensing and vehicle centers on Mondays in July.
Thursday marked the third day of NJ MVC's reopening after being closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. And, just like the previous day, the sights outside these agencies were the same: people camped out for hours, massive lines and delays.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of customers line up each day outside the locations to see if it's their turn to be lucky and have their issue addressed. Others were only in line to sell their spot, and they did, for hundreds of dollars.
Some opted for camping out in line overnight — like people would do years ago for concert tickets, but in this case, it's the MVC — in hopes of getting an early appointment. Gov. Murphy discouraged such actions, and as an additional safety measure, the MVC will not allow lines on the property after capacity is reached, saying lines can form once again the next morning at 7 p.m.
The MVC strongly encourages customers to complete transactions online, if at all possible. If that is not an option and the task must be done in person, the agency told customers to ensure the proper documents are on hand and up to date.
Those lucky enough to make it inside an MVC, social distancing and safety protocols must be followed. These safety measures and months of pent up services are contributing to long lines and a slow process. Also adding to some wait times is each site being broken up into two sections: vehicle centers (for those needing new vehicle registration, titles, or license plates) and licensing centers (for those needing new licenses, permits or real ID). Those who need both were told they needed to wait in both lines.
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton issued a statement Monday that the commission was aware of the high volume of customers visiting MVC agencies and sent additional assistance to the busiest agencies. She released another statement Thursday regarding the lines and wait times.
“We share the frustration of our customers and hear the complaints loud and clear," Fulton's statement reads in part. Our employees are working hard in a difficult climate to keep up with demand."
The resumption of some in-person transactions at New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission offices were set to take place late last month. However, they were delayed until July 7 due to a problem with a new text message system that's intended to prevent overcrowding.