Anyone planning to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles this week should think again.
The agency is warning customers to expect long lines and long waits this week as both customers and employees become familiar with its upgraded computer system.
Calling it “a learning curve for everyone,” DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala, Jr. is urging people to instead go online or take advantage of the extensions given for renewals of licenses, ID cards and registrations. Extensions started Aug. 11 and end Oct. 10 for these renewals.
He said long lines primarily come from employees adapting to changes in doing complicated and detailed DMV transactions. With the 40-year-old system employees knew well, it took an average of nine minutes per person. That increased to about 16 minutes with the upgraded software, updated computer screens and other changes needed.
“Imagine if we changed a computer keyboard design. The change would slow things down for a while until people became accustomed to it,” he explained.
DMV also found in the last week thousands of customers came into offices and waited many hours, although they did not need to be there. The department estimated that last week 5,162 customers, (32% of all transactions) could have done their transactions online and skipped waiting in line.
“We understand this is a cultural change for people to start thinking about ‘going online to DMV’ rather than ‘going to the DMV.’  People have been calling for more online DMV services for many years and some significant ones are here now,” Ayala said.
The new online services DMV offers are:
    Improved online registration renewal program.
    Online checks for items, such as unpaid property taxes, lack of insurance, delinquent parking violations, which can hold up a registration renewal and cause repeat trips to DMV.
    Reprints of registration certificates from home or other computers.
    Registration cancellations online.
    Online ordering of special plates, such as vanity plates.
    Online ordering of replacements for damaged plates.
    Electronic notification by providing customers with an option for DMV to contact them either by mail or e-mail.
    Streamline efficiency of technology in the agency to with services in branch offices.
The DMV also has launched a radio, television and digital advertising campaign called “Gear Up” to make customers aware of the new services.
Customers are advised to check the DMV website (ct.gov/dmv) for updates after the agency re-opens and for more information.