RMV Wait Times Span Hours as State Transitions to New Driver’s Licensing System

Massachusetts motorists were stuck waiting for hours on Monday as the state implemented the new Real ID process, which eliminates the option to renew licenses online.

Cars in gridlock

Photo via iStock/Grafissimo

Five hours is enough time to fly to Cancun, watch 10 episodes of Friends, or reach the front of the line at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

RMVs across Massachusetts reopened Monday after closing for three days while personnel prepared to implement the state’s new driver’s licensing system. But motorists who showed up needing service faced exceptionally long waits across the state. According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts drivers spent an average of 1 hour and 20 minutes at RMVs statewide, and in Downtown Boston, the wait took an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes. Those figures are a far cry from the first two months of the year, when, the Globe reports, more than 90 percent of customers made it through the line in less than 30 minutes.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told the Globe she expects longer lines to continue as staff become more comfortable with the new licensing system. To obtain a Real ID, Massachusetts motorists must visit an RMV in person and provide more extensive identifying documentation. Under the new system, drivers cannot renew their licenses online and need to validate their Social Security Number, U.S. citizenship or lawful presence, and Massachusetts residency. On Monday, the extra paper elongated processing times at the RMV, which were compounded by the excess of customers who could not complete their business when the branches temporarily closed last week.

As of October 2020, Massachusetts residents will need a Real ID to board a plane an enter a federal building. The change is in accordance with a 2005 law that bolstered security measures across the country following 9/11 and has gradually been applied nationwide.