New Saturday hours at Santa Clara’s DMV office have led to mixed results. In late July, California decided to extend the hours at 60 DMV offices statewide, including the one on Flora Vista Ave. The hope was that by opening earlier and on Saturday, it would help alleviate wait times.
But on Aug. 25, the line outside the Santa Clara DMV stretched around the building and well into the parking lot. The need for service on Saturday, doubled with an internet issue forced more than a hundred people to stand in line for hours. Many others gave up and walked away before they were helped.
Rahoul Puri of Los Altos was at the DMV on that day. He said he drove all the way to Santa Clara because it’s the closest DMV open on a Saturday. Puri tried to schedule an appointment in August, but couldn’t get one on the calendar until late September. Since his son was having a similar issue, they both decided to give up their Saturday.
“I don’t understand why it’s taking two months to get an appointment,” said a frustrated Puri. “We decided, okay, let’s suck it up and come at 7:25 in the morning.”
Even though they arrived early, Puri was still behind about 50 people in line. Both Puri and his son waited at the DMV instead of going to another branch where they would have also had to stand in line. The DMV says internet connectivity was restored in the afternoon and the office was able to help a limited number of customers.
Despite the issues in Santa Clara, the DMV claims the new hours are making a difference. According to the state, since the week of July 23, the Santa Clara field office has seen non-appointment wait times reduced by 73 minutes. That’s much larger than the statewide average of a 20-minute reduction.
The state says the new Saturday hours are just one step in the DMV’s goal of improving the customer experience.
“The DMV has redesigned its homepage, added early morning office hours, and began offering a tablet check-in and text notification option,” said Jessica Gonzalez, Asst. Deputy Director of California DMV’s Office of Public Affairs. “We are also expanding our DMV Now Self-Service Terminals, which allows customers to renew their vehicle registration on the spot.”
However, the new hours appear to be at cross-purposes with the government’s REAL ID program. In October of 2020, you must have a valid California REAL ID card or a valid U.S. passport to go through an airport checkpoint, onto a military base or into other secure federal facilities.
At the moment, you can only get a REAL ID card when you visit a DMV office in person. There are currently no other government offices that can verify you for a REAL ID card.
The DMV has no current plans to open other Bay Area offices up for service on Saturday.