The Department of Motor Vehicles has been forced to close every second Friday of the month in order to help ease the state budget. This month, the DMV is closed for three Fridays and a fourth day on Christmas day.
On Wednesday, December 4, the DMV website listed the wait time at the El Cajon office at 33 minutes — 3 minutes if you had an appointment. Unfortunately, those estimations weren't true.
At 3:00 p.m., the line to get into the El Cajon DMV stretched 100 yards outside the building and around the corner, and that was just the wait to get a number. Forty-five minutes later, I got my number and then waited another 35 minutes before my turn came up.
Shortly after 4:15 p.m., the private security officer patrolling the site started waving people off, despite an advertised 5 p.m. closing time. Inside, tempers were frayed. People complained about the wait. The staff of the DMV ignored them, and in some cases, made them sit down again to complete forms.
San Diego resident Maria Vega said, "I've been here three times this week and [was] unable to get in. How am I going to renew my license?"
Eighty minutes after arriving, my number was called. I handed over paperwork to change the title of a car.
"With the DMV closed every Friday, what's the volume during the week like?" I asked. The clerk said, "It's worse than it's ever been."
At the bottom of my title deed is a warning that failure to change ownership details results in a fine. "What happens if I can't get in to change the title because your office is closed?" I asked. The clerk smirked back at me. "Governor Arnold reduces the deficit when you pay the fine." Did I hear that right? Is it possible that the unknown advantage to the closure of state government departments is the resulting fines from being unable to complete requirements?