Connecticut lawmakers look to privatize the DMV

Drivers wait at a Connecticut DMV office. (File)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A public hearing this morning could be the first step towards never having to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles again. Lawmakers heard testimony on privatizing part or all of the DMV.

Before the Hamden DMV office even opened, dozens of people were already lined up to get in, some for the second or third day.

“The first time I was here at exactly 7:59 and the line was ridiculously long,” explained new Hamden resident Adora Enemuo. “I had to go to work, so I had to come back.”

Complaints like those have lawmakers looking to make some changes

“Three and four hour wait times have become way too common,” said State Sen. Toni Bouncher (R-Wilton). “They had a new software system that they implemented that failed.”

You can already go to the AAA for some basic DMV services, like renewing your license, and they do that just fine on their own, so why not outsource more functions to private entities? The Transportation Committee of the General Assembly looked into that, and as it did, members found out that the way the laws are currently written, they can just go ahead and do it.

“There is no prohibition of the DMV really outsourcing what they do to some private companies,” explained Sen. Boucher, ranking member of the Transportation Committee.

There’s no prohibition against outsourcing. The bill they’ve crafted would force the DMV to privatize. The question is, how much? Should the department still be in the business of licensing drivers?

“They should be in that business, but they should do it right, so they need to fix their problems, number one. And for those things that they can outsource, they should do it. They should do more of it,” said Sen. Boucher.

This push for outsourcing comes as the DMV continues to slog through its worst few months ever. They replaced the entire computer system last summer, and ever since, wait times have been 3,4,5 hours long.

The head of one driving school says his company could handle all the testing and paperwork for people to get their licenses. Unionized DMV inspectors could be on-site monitoring things. For all those people stuck waiting at the DMV, they say, why not privatize? Could the lines get any longer?

“If we can take it out of the government’s hands and kind of put it in the private section, a lot of private companies are running successfully,” suggested Hamden resident Chase Vajcovec.

“I’m all for it,” added Alex Droszd of Wallingford. “Because it would run better. The state doesn’t know what they’re doing.”

Senator Boucher also suggests check in kiosks, like where you print your boarding pass at the airport. She says that could speed up a process that sometimes takes four or five hours right now.

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