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Modernization of the DMV Continues Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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SACRAMENTO – As Californians adjust to the health, economic and societal challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is adjusting along with them. In response to the pandemic, the DMV has accelerated implementation of technology and created new service channels to better serve its customers.

Since March, the DMV:

  • Made it easier to establish an online account
  • Expanded DMV Express statewide to expedite the REAL ID application process
  • Created the Virtual Field Office and continued to add new services to give customers the capability to take care of transactions online that previously required an in-person office visit
  • Added requesting a duplicate driver license as an online service, allowing customers to replace a driver license that has been lost or stolen without visiting an office
  • Began offering motor carrier permit renewals online
  • Expanded DMV Now Kiosk capability to include replacement registration cards and license plate stickers and added multiple languages
  • Launched a redesigned website
  • Completed the expansion of credit cards and mobile wallet payment options to all DMV offices

“This contactless delivery of service has allowed us to navigate through this pandemic and still serve customers,” said DMV Director Steve Gordon.

Among the upgrades, the DMV now offers customers statewide the opportunity to upload documents needed to apply for a REAL ID before their office visit. Customers then get an Express Experience once they visit an office – no appointment needed. The DMV leveraged this same technology to build the virtual office, which allows customers to upload documents and interact with DMV staff through email.

The DMV also has applied these upgrades to allow customers to receive paper driver license extensions online during the pandemic.

Over the past year, the DMV has also embarked on a network modernization effort to improve IT infrastructure, offer network stabilization and redundancy, and increase efficiencies in offices statewide to reduce processing times. This effort is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2020.

“We have come a long way in modernizing the DMV,” said Gordon, who was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom last July. “But we are not done. The next steps in our modernization journey include improved virtual office efficiency, fully digitizing items in the virtual office by increasing the use of technology, and to move more high-volume transactions out of field offices. The DMV continues to streamline and simplify processes, and engage with customers where they are, instead of making customers come to the DMV.”

In addition to technological enhancements, the DMV has implemented new health and safety protocols at offices to ensure customers who still must visit a field office do so in a safe manner.

DMV field office employees are assisting customers with current appointments at the specific office or with limited transactions that require an in-person visit. Last month, offices began offering additional services, including vehicle inspections and behind-the-wheel drive tests.

The DMV continues to recommend that customers use its online services, expanded virtual services and other service channels to complete transactions, including eligible driver license and vehicle registration renewals. Customers can use the Service Advisor on the DMV website to learn their options to complete DMV tasks.

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