HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you've been dreading renewing your driver's license or getting a state ID card – some good news, you can now preview how long the lines are before heading to the DMV.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced a series of new initiatives designed to dramatically reduce wait times at the Kalihi Kapalama City Square DMV this morning. The first – live webcams in all five O'ahu DMV locations that show what lines look like in real time.
"You can come in look at the line and if it doesn't look long you can say: 'Let's go down and get our state ID or our driver's license now' or: 'Wow, the line is really long. Forget it we'll try another day,'" said Mayor Caldwell, while demonstrating how the cameras are used. Checking the live feed is easy, just log on to www.honolulu.gov and click on "DMV/State ID service line cameras" from your computer or smartphone.
"The cameras we found on Ebay and we purchased them for $99 per camera. We installed it in-house and that service alone—making it available on our city website—offered a $99 dollar value on something that can really affect people's lives," said Sheri Kajiwara, Customer Service Director.
Officials have also streamlined the system by separating the state ID and driver's license lines.
"If you had been here 8 weeks ago, this line wiggled back and forth, back and forth, here out the door," said Mayor Caldwell. "Now if this state ID line is processed completely and there's no one in the line—the two clerks that are servicing this line will start handling the driver's license line."
Additional staff has also been hired to help with the increase in numbers since the city took over the application process for state identification cards in January.
"In an attempt to be more fiscally responsible, we froze a few positions and now we're going to open those up and we're going to fill them," said Kajiwara.
Just a few hours into effect for the new initiatives and customers were already benefiting.
Ana Tenorio only waited in line ten minutes this morning. "I visited this location in December and the wait was pretty long," said Tenorio. "When I came back today it was definitely a lot shorter so I appreciate it for sure."
City officials have also added a pre-screening area where customers can check-in to make sure they have the right documents before getting into line.
The service saved Rayne Dombrowski a wait today."I didn't have all my documentation, so I just need my social security card and that's about it – I should be able to renew," said Dombrowski, before adding how appreciative he was he didn't have to wait in line to find that out.
Eventually, you may not have to wait at the DMV at all. City officials are working on a system where customers can take a number, then run errands, while keeping an eye on a streaming live feed until their turn is near.
"This is about self-empowerment," said Mayor Caldwell. "It's giving people information—the tax payers, the residents of this county—the information they need to make a smart decision."
The next thing the city plans to tackle is reducing the wait time for driver's license road tests. Right now, it's a three to four months on average. Caldwell's administration is looking into hiring retired Honolulu police officers to help with the backlog.
"For just a 30 day period we're going to bring in an army of officers to help us with that backlog, and hopefully after that we won't have people lining up in the middle of the night—hoping to get that one canceled spot because they need a job, or they need to get to school or they just want their license," said Kajiwara. "We're going to help those people very soon."