CT DMV moves forward with shift to online services

WETHERSFIELD — Standing outside the Department of Motor Vehicles, Deputy Commissioner Tony Guerrera spread his arms out, indicating the empty sidewalk outside the office.

“Take a quick second and take a look at this. The day after Memorial Day, three years ago, the commissioner and I were in this office, staring at a line of people toward the parking lot. That didn’t happen today. today,” Guerrera said Tuesday afternoon.

“We have a governor who has given us the resources and the tools to ensure the quality of life for every Connecticut resident or people who want to enter our state as easily as possible.”

Guerrera, along with Governor Ned Lamont, DMV Commissioner Sibongile “Bongi” Magubane, and State Senator Will Haskell, chairman of the Legislature Transportation Committee, discussed ways the DMV has streamlined its services and changes it will bring in the future.

When businesses and state agencies were forced to shut down in-person services during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DMV, like other state departments, had to improvise, Guerrera said.

“The governor put all the forces there to make sure we did what we had to do. The DMV didn’t shut down, we made sure to keep our employees, our customers safe,” he said. “We had to get people out of the queues, but make sure we gave them an appointment system and that’s what we did. This appointment system will stay with us today, tomorrow and for the future of the DMV.

The appointment system has enabled nearly 750,000 Connecticut residents since January 2021 to transact online with the DMV, Magubane said.

Along with the online appointment system, the DMV is doing a total overhaul of its website, she said.

“When the citizens of Connecticut came to the DMV, it was really lucky that they were able to complete their transactions because they weren’t always clear on what they needed to bring in order to be successful,” said said Magubane.

“We are considering revamping our website because the website is essential to ensuring that everyone understands what to expect when they arrive at the DMV, how long it will take and also what they need to complete their transaction.”

The appointment system will also receive an upgrade, Magubane said. Previously, a separate appointment was made for each transaction someone sought to complete at the DMV, a system that will be changed to allow multiple transactions at once.

“In the past, most of our transactions were in person, then we introduced an appointment system, but it’s not integrated,” Magubane said. “In the future, when you want to set up an appointment at the DMV, you will be able to view multiple transactions. You will know exactly how long it will take in today’s world, you can only make one transaction and if you have another appointment, you come back.

“Going forward, you can stack your trades, come in one and do and we’ll know what you come in for,” she said.

When he took office, Haskell said many of the first emails he received from constituents were about the DMV, with complaints about the DMV’s inability to book appointments or confusing requirements.

With improvements to the DMV website, appointment platform and the ability to perform certain tasks online, such as license renewal, Haskell, D-Westport, said it was no longer receiving emails regarding the DMV.

“The processes were too cumbersome and required taking time out of their day. They needed working single parents, between showing up for work, getting the kids to school and cooking dinner, they also needed to find an hour or two or three to get to their local DMV branch to try and complete these transactions,” he said.

“In the pandemic, if there’s a silver lining, it’s accelerated the progress this agency has made,” Haskell said.

Technological enhancements to the DMV will be reflected at the Department of Labor on July 5, when unemployment compensation claims will also move to an online system, Lamont said.

“It was very manual, very laborious, very human. We have not been able to cope with the load of unemployment claims that we have not seen since the Great Depression,” he said. “Now we will be much better able to do that. Much of this is done electronically.

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Veronica J. Snell