12 Responds: With restrictions lifted, will the DMV add more appointments?

Local News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Islanders double-booking or not showing up to scheduled appointments at the R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are clogging the system and making it difficult for others to secure a time slot, a spokesperson for the agency tells 12 News.

The pandemic forced the agency to move to appointment system for a number of services, including vehicle registrations.

Viewers have continuously written into 12 Responds regarding their struggles with making a reservation, such as one who asked: “How can a Rhode Islander register a newly purchased car?”

By law, if a person purchases a car from a private party, it needs to be registered within two days, according to DMV spokesperson Paul Grimaldi. He said those who need to register a vehicle can mail or drop off the form at any branch. If all the paperwork is in order, Grimaldi said it typically takes less than 48 hours to process.

He said anyone who drops off the form also has to provide a form of payment.

“Customers must provide a blank check made out to the RI DMV and accurate contact information in the event the CSR needs to contact them,” he explained, adding that the DMV accepts credit cards but customers must indicate that and provide the necessary information “or a customer service representative will call and get the information when they are processing the transaction.”

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase the time needed to register a newly purchased vehicle to 30 days. The bill has been held for further study, but its sponsor said she’s talking with leadership to try and push the legislation forward.

Another 12 News viewer asked, “Will the RIDMV be adding more appointments since the restrictions have been lifted?”

According to Grimaldi, the DMV offers roughly 1,200 reservations each day, with an average wait time of 12 minutes. He said the DMV is now assessing how many additional appointments it can add now that the state has lifted restrictions, but the agency is trying to avoid long wait times.

The DMV releases new time slots every Monday for appointments several weeks out, Grimaldi said. For example, he said on Monday, May 24, reservations were released for the week of June 21.

Additional appointments are also posted on Fridays for the upcoming week.

For the Cranston branch specifically, more appointments are released every day because there’s a higher rate of no-shows for the morning slots at that location, according to Grimaldi.

“Based on staffing and no-show rates, we’ll add anywhere from 25-75 more appointments for that day,” Grimaldi said.

Grimaldi said the volume of customers helped in March and April 2021 was comparable to those same months in 2019. In fact, DMV data shows a total of 334,144 customers were helped in March and April of 2019, compared to 342,837 for the same time frame this year.

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