City officials work to find a solution as DMVs wade through COVID backlog

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 9:57 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 20, 2021 at 10:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you’ve had trouble booking an appointment with the Honolulu Department of Motor Vehicles, you are not alone.

The city is facing a backlog of thousands that stretches back a year.

“We have a huge backlog from 2020 of expired and non-renewed drivers licenses,” said Nola Miyasaki, director of the city’s Department of Customer Services.

“That was the beginning of 2021, and then if you add that to the current higher amount — higher than usual — 146,000. That’s more than twice our normal processing rate.”

After having to shut down its facilities twice in 2020, the city had to initially cancel 78,000 meetings. Some residents have reached out to Hawaii News Now saying they can’t reschedule another time slot for months.

However, Miyasaki says they are trying a number of measures to meet the high demand, including increasing online bookings and adding more customer service counters.

“We’ve also tried to allow only people whose drivers license are either expired or expiring in the next three months to get a priority appointment, so those are all the things that we’re working on,” Miyasaki explained.

“We’re constantly, trying to revise our system to open up and have people be able to get processed.”

Limited in-person capacity at DMV locations and satellite city halls is also adding to the delays.

The city aims to clear the backlog and catch up with current appointments by the end of this year, which could be possible with temporary contract staff.

“We did it last year too when we had some CARES funding,” Miyasaki said.

“We’re gonna do the same thing this year to help us get through the rest of the year and that is probably the only way to increase our capacity temporarily to get through this backlog. That and opening up more windows, trying to maximize across all the locations as soon as we can.”

To avoid booking an appointment, Miyasaki advises either doing vehicle registrations online or visiting an express kiosk.

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