DMV wait times could be more bearable under John Hickenlooper-announced program

Yesterday, as robotic voices called for the next in line and more than one man ogled a Michael Crichton paperback, Governor John Hickenlooper visited the Pierce Street DMV to announce a statewide plan to shorten the times many of those present will face on their next visit. Called the "Wait Less" program, the initiative allows drivers and wannabe drivers to check in through a new computerized system created to cut down on lines.

The program lets Coloradans sign up for an appointment online in advance of their visit. Once they make it to the Department of Motor Vehicles, they are processed through a check-in area at the front. Here, efficiency is key: Multiple people can check in at once.

"That is a huge improvement from the old way of doing business, where people never know how long it will take until they get to a DMV office," Hickenlooper says of the program.

Already, Wait Less is in place at the Lakewood DMV Hickenlooper visited yesterday, and it should make its way to the city's central license office by the end of the spring. By 2013, the Department of Motor Vehicles will provide the same service in eleven other state offices, including those in Aurora, Boulder and Colorado Springs.

As David Douglas, number R725 in yesterday's line to renew licenses, waited for his spot at station seventeen, he took Hickenlooper's presence -- and his plan -- as a sign of good things to come. "I do think it's interesting that they're trying to improve a system that has been this way for so long," Douglas says. His longest wait has been two hours, which beats the average of close to an hour. "The more I can do from home, the better."

According to a press release on the Wait Less program, almost one million Coloradans apply for a license or renew a previous one each year. This latest attempt to improve the bearability of the dreaded DMV comes only a few weeks after Mayor Michael Hancock announced his own adjustment. In late February, Hancock canceled four furlough days for DMV employees in the hope of adding to customer service and detracting from the time it takes.

The decision to keep the DMV open during the furlough days came as a part of Hancock's "Peak Performance" efforts targeted at eight Denver departments. Next Thursday is the first furlough day to be officially canceled.

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In the meantime, Wait Less brooks the possibility of streamlining additional government services at the same time. According to Barbara Brohl, the executive director of the Department of Revenue, the check-in booths will eventually be targeted toward helping drivers register to vote, renew their licenses online and change their personal information.

"We also hope to add customer text message notifications, so people can avoid waiting on site," she said in a statement. "With a text message, they can be called back just in time to be at the front of the line."

More from our News archive: "Video: See the scariest DMV bathroom ever."

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