EATONTOWN, NJ – Lines at New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (formerly DMV) locations this week have been horrendous, some reaching nearly a mile as Governor Murphy reopened the agency this week. The problem is that the governor furlough many agencies employees and residents are now backlogged many months for driver licenses, registrations, and testing. While an expired license in New Jersey might get a pass from local law enforcement, for people who travel between states, there’s no guarantee out-of-state agencies would be so forgiving.
Lines have been so long, people have been actually camping out overnight to secure a good spot in line for the next morning, but Murphy warns against it.
“Don’t be camping out overnight at an MVC agency or facility, please stay home and stay safe,” Murphy said.
That’s just one of the reasons so many want their driving documents in order as soon as possible.
Murphy on Tuesday acknowledged the disaster that unfolded across the state at MVC offices.
“I know that yesterday was a challenging first day back for everyone at the Motor Vehicle Commission. By the way, it sounds like day number two is not much less challenging either, and I completely understand the frustration felt by every customer forced to wait on long lines as we reopen and deal with the months and months of backlog due to the closures caused by the pandemic,” Murphy said. “What many experienced yesterday and it feels like perhaps again today, and my guess is this is going to go on for a bit, was not up to their expectations or ours, and we will do better. If you’re not happy, I would just want to tell you something. You’re upset about this, so am I, and frankly, so is Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. She recognizes this as well and is committed to meeting the needs of our residents and motorists. We are going to work harder and work better to deliver a better experience.”
Murphy removes MVC employees from state workers furloughs.
“So, to ensure that the MVC does not go understaffed, I am exempting MVC personnel from any work furloughs. We need to have literally every hand on deck, every day, serving the public. Additionally, MVC will remain open on Mondays throughout July, and this is a reversal from prior plans,” he added. “Agencies will be closed this Saturday, but beginning on Monday, will be open six days a week. In the meantime, before — and this is really important, folks – in the meantime, before you make the trip to an agency, visit njmvc.gov. If your transaction can be completed through MVC’s online services, use it. You can skip the line and skip the trip. The lines we saw yesterday were not to be unexpected; after a three-month layoff, we knew that countless New Jerseyans needed to get their new licenses, to register new vehicles or renew their paperwork.”
The problem isn’t going to magically disappear any time soon, Murphy acknowledged.
“In pre-pandemic days, there could often be long wait times, especially in peak times. Expiration dates for all driver’s licenses, permits and non-driver IDs, commercial registrations, inspections and temporary tags were automatically extended at the beginning of this emergency,” he added. “I want to remind you all of that. I encourage you to take advantage of these extensions to allow for more customers to get in and get out and to lessen the crowding. And obviously, we don’t want anyone, bless you, we appreciate why you might be doing it, but please don’t be camping out overnight at an MVC agency or facility, please stay home and stay safe. See if you can conduct business online. Wait a few more days, perhaps, but please don’t camp out.”
“The women and men of the MVC are hardworking, and they are doing their best to help serve New Jersey’s motorists. They are our neighbors and friends, and I know these times can be frustrating but please, please, please be polite as they work to serve you. Again, I want to repeat what I said a minute ago,” he said. “You’re frustrated, and so am I, and so is Sue Fulton, and we are committed to getting this into a better place. It is not entirely unlike the experience at the beginning of the pandemic with the tsunami of folks unemployed seeking unemployment benefits and insurance. We have a backlog that has now been months in the making and we’ll do everything we can to make this a better situation, but it won’t be overnight. But the combination of more days, reminding folks that expirations have been extended, really strongly encouraging folks to go online njmvc — can you put that up again, Danny? Njmvc.gov, it is up. Just go there first, because you’re going to find you may well be able to do your business online, and there’s a whole range of services, I won’t go through them, that you can do online.”
Reports of arguments and fights on long lines at the DMV surfaced on social media this week, but the Governor also warns against that.
“Please have patience and respect for the folks who are serving you and doing their utmost to make this process as painless as possible. And again, I want to prepare everybody for the fact this is not going to get better overnight,” he added. “So we will unfurlough any workers at MVC, we’ll extend the number of days, we’ll ask you to go online and do everything you can online, but we’ve got a big backlog and we’re going to have to chop through it and get through this together.”