In October, we conducted a survey among California residents asking them all about their relationship with the DMV. The findings were eye-opening! Questions ranged from DMV wait times in line to the most common reasons for visiting. We even asked how many left without having their issue resolved (hint: too many). Here’s the summary of findings:

Over 60% of respondents have been to the DMV in the last year.

survey-last-dmv-visit

This is surprising! Anecdotally we expected that folks typically do everything they can to avoid having to go to the DMV, even if they have to. We guessed that perhaps most people might go once every 5 years. We weren’t even close. Why? Well, here was the reason why people were visiting…

85% percent of people go to the DMV for 3 reasons

To take a driver’s license test (31%), to renew or replace a driver’s license (28%), or to register a vehicle (26%).

survey-reasons-to-visit-dmv

In addition to these three reasons, the other most common reasons to visit the DMV in person was to take a learner’s permit test. And in some cases, the respondents went to the DMV for 2 or more of these reasons.

Besides the driver’s license test, which, as we all know, involves awkwardly driving around the neighborhood with a courteously uniformed DMV employee with a clipboard (this experience hasn’t changed in decades), registering vehicles and renewing licenses should be more streamlined.

Why would the DMV want us to go spend a good chunk of our day at the DMV, when, as it turns out, these are the average wait times in California…

1 out of every 4 people spend 2+ hours at the DMV

That’s astounding! Talk about long DMV wait times. According to respondents, 45% of people spent between 1 and 2 hours at the DMV, while 14% spent between 2 and 3 hours. And here’s the kicker: 9% (nearly 1 out of every 10 people) spent over 3 hours at the DMV.

survey-time-spent-at-dmv

Imagine if you were that person who had to re-register a vehicle and had to do it in person, and instead of doing it online in 10 seconds you had to drive to your local DMV and wait for 2 hours. The good news is some of these services are becoming easier to access online, but even when online services do exist, they can still be difficult to find or access.

If you’re not one of the 41% of respondents who scheduled an appointment before your visit, we highly recommend scheduling one before your next visit. You can shorten your DMV wait times! (You can use our free scheduling feature too!)

1 out of 3 people still had issues after their DMV visit

According to survey respondents, when we asked if they had their “issue resolved on [their] first DMV visit”, 33% said “No”. That means that even with all of the pre-visit research being done and the long wait times, many people left still with questions, forms to fill out, or notarized documents to complete.

One survey respondent summed up some of this frustration:

“It took almost a year to get a title transfer. Title company changed names and no one at several DMV’s could figure it out until one angel of a woman at the Glendale DMV used common sense to figure it out. California I want my 80-90 hours that I spent dealing with this back!!!”

While others acknowledged that the DMV experience can be highly variable based on location, the overall feeling of too much time being spent on what should be simple procedures is strong.

We hope this changes fast for your next appointment. We’ve built a couple free services to help out in the meantime, such as quickly scheduling appointments and taking written practice tests.

Conclusion: DMV Wait Times Don’t Have to Kill Your Day

Don’t spend hours online or inline at the DMV. Streamline your appointment and streamline your an experience. Book an appointment, get the forms you need squared away before you go, and you’ll be much happier.


? Special thanks to all the 140+ survey respondents.

? Here’s how to crush your DMV permit test and avoid being part of the 50% that fails.

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