DMV resumes walk-in operations after computer system overhaul

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island DMV resumed normal walk-in operations Tuesday following the installation of a $19 million computer system earlier this month.

The DMV had temporarily closed some locations and was serving customers on a reservation-only basis while the new computer software was installed.

“Transaction times at the windows are right where we want them to be at about 11 and a half minutes,” DMV spokesperson Paul Grimaldi said Tuesday. “The wait times yesterday and into today are about where we expected it, too.”

Eyewitness News spoke to a number of DMV customers at the Cranston headquarters Tuesday around lunchtime who reported waiting about an hour for service. Grimaldi said an hour wait was about average, with some customers waiting only 20 minutes and others waiting multiple hours for more complicated needs.

Ultimately, Grimaldi said the goal is to get the customer service representatives to work faster on the new computer system than they did on the outdated, 40-year-old previous system, which would reduce wait times.

“They’re learning the system,” Grimaldi said. “Remember they’ve only been on it for 6 days of training and 10-11 days of actual use.”

Grimaldi said with 17,000 transactions happening each month at the Cranston location, shaving even a minute off the average transaction time could save 283 hours of wait time per month.

Because of the changeover to the new system, customers with licenses and registrations expiring in July have until September 30 to renew. Police in all 50 states have been notified, along with the TSA.

Rhode Islanders can also still go to AAA to handle their DMV needs, even if they are not members.

Grimaldi said the reservation-only system during the computer upgrade was very popular, and the DMV is now considering going appointment-only permanently. He said any changes like that would need to be approved by the General Assembly, which is not scheduled to be back in session until January.

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