Frustration over long wait times and confusion over new requirements have some drivers waiting hours at the RMV this week, but the Massachusetts Department of Transportation says part of the solution is education about the state's new license system.
The backup is due to the rollout of the new REAL ID, which will be required identification for anyone to fly or enter federal buildings come October 2020. The RMV shut down for three days last week to install the new technology needed for the change and since re-opening this week, drivers say the lines have been longer than usual.
"They said it was a four hour wait, so we decided to just come back," Steve Leary said, who stopped by the Braintree location to try and renew his license for the second day in a row.
"It was crazy," driver Kevin Ayala said. "The lines were out the door and I went to the Brockton one and same thing."
A few drivers who did not want to wait four hours Monday showed up again Tuesday to find somewhat shorter wait times. Still, some at the Braintree RMV ended up spending close to three hours inside.
Officials at MassDOT admitted lines were longer than they had hoped for on Monday. In contrast, on Tuesday, they said more drivers were coming with applications filled out, required documents in hand and a heightened awareness about the new system. They also said RMV service staff is becoming more confident in the new system.
"This is a big change in state and federal law, and a big change in system technology," Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said. "I do believe over the course of the next several weeks, it will iron itself out."
Plenty of drivers were showing up without the required paperwork this week and finding themselves frustrated.
"Now we need a birth certificate, so we had to go to the Town Hall to get a birth certificate, but when we came back, they said it's going to be an even longer wait," Leary said.
To obtain a REAL ID, residents will need to bring a Social Security card or work document; a passport, certified birth certificate or immigration form; and two forms proving Massachusetts residency. MassDOT says the process will be faster if more residents fill out the application beforehand and complete their "Get Ready" steps online.