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DC DMV Testimony Before Committee on Transportation and the Environment

Friday, February 28, 2014

DC DMV Testimony Before Committee on Transportation and the Environment

Testimony of Lucinda Babers, Director Department of Motor Vehicles

Before the Committee on Transportation and the Environment

Mary Cheh, Chairperson

Friday, February 2 8, 2014

11:00 am – Room 412

The Wilson Building

Washington, DC

Good Morning, Chairperson Cheh, Committee members, Councilmembers, and your staffs.  My name is Lucinda Babers, and I am the Director of the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV). 

Prior to sharing the major FY13 and year-to-date FY14 DC DMV accomplishments, I would like to thank our customers, this Committee and the rest of the Council for your support.  We often rely on all of you to provide the necessary feedback that guides our decisions for service improvements.  I also must extend a special thanks to my DC DMV coworkers whose dedication and efforts make it possible for us to service the needs of the customers.  As I always say, I am truly humbled to serve with them and thank them for all they do for the District and Team DMV.

DMV provides service to over 533,000 licensed drivers/identification card holders and 288,000 registered vehicles at three service centers.  We provide adjudication services and collect ticket payments for more than 2.5 million tickets annually.  We also conduct over 189,000 annual vehicle inspections.  DMV interacts with DC residents and non-residents, with an average of 3,200 daily customer contacts—more than almost any other District government agency.

During FY13 and year-to-date FY14, we continued our efforts to streamline and improve service delivery to offset the increased demand for our services.  Following are the highlights of the past and current fiscal year’s accomplishments. 

For FY13, we had several goals in our agency performance plan.  In mid-2013, we implemented two initiatives aimed at reducing our road test backlog.  We modified regulations to allow for an extended time period prior to an expired license holder having to retake the written and road tests.  Additionally, we certified driving instructors to administer road tests.  Both of these actions, along with hiring additional staff, decreased our road test backlog from three to one month.

Last year, we developed a process to modify the registration renewal dates of over 1,000 taxis so they would not all expire in March.  Instead, the expiration dates were spread out throughout the year to balance the workload and prevent significant customer wait times in March 2014.  We also distributed the for hire function to all three service centers to further balance the customer workload.

As reported last year, with assistance from the Department of General Services (DGS), we opened a new DMV service center located at Rhode Island Row in Ward 5 on April 2, 2013.  This facility, which offers licensing, identification, registration and titling services, replaced our Georgetown Service Center which was required to close in May 2012 due to mall renovations.   We are also working towards a May 2014 opening date for a new and larger service center location in Georgetown.  This facility is necessary for us to implement the Driver Safety Amendment Act to issue limited purpose credentials to undocumented residents beginning May 1, 2014.    

In terms of information technology enhancements, in June 2013, we implemented an online transaction to allow customers to calculate excise tax prior to in-person visits.  This allow for customers to have the necessary funds to complete their title transaction.  Additionally, our integration with the US Department of State allows us to verify US passports in real-time.  Our coordination with the Office of Tax and Revenue on offsetting delinquent tickets against tax refunds has resulted in over $6M in collections.  We also worked with the Office of Finance and Treasury on the creation of their Central Collection Unit which has the legal authority to provide a variety of payment options for delinquent tickets.  Finally, we used an online fraudulent document recognition course to refresh employees’ knowledge on the review and authentication of legal documents such as birth certificates, titles and out-of-state credentials.

Another major project completed in November 2013 was the implementation of a more secure credential with advanced security features, including taking digital photos upfront.  We also introduced a central issuance process which further deters fraud.  Our strong collaboration with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) enabled the successful implementation of this major project.  In September 2013, we also worked with OCTO to roll out mobile ready transactions for our driver license, identification cards and vehicle registration renewal transactions.

As always, prior to closing, I would like to provide the listening public with a few important DC DMV tips.  To avoid insurance lapse fines and possible registration suspension, insurance must be maintained on all vehicles that are currently registered in the District.  Therefore, prior to cancelling the insurance for a vehicle which you are no longer driving, please also cancel your vehicle registration by surrendering your license plates to DC DMV.  This tag/registration cancellation can be done online at www.dmv.dc.gov.

There is often confusion among customers related to the functions of the various agencies involved with parking.  The District Department of Transportation regulates parking by managing policy, signage and meters; the Department of Public Works enforces parking by issuing tickets; and DC DMV adjudicates tickets by allowing you to contest a ticket you believe was issued in error.  If you receive a ticket which you believe to have been issued in error, you must officially adjudicate the ticket, within the timeframe allowed, using the instructions on the back of the ticket or on our website to protect your legal right to adjudicate.  You can submit your request to adjudicate tickets online at www.dmv.dc.gov.  Additionally, if you receive a ticket which doubles (i.e., has a penalty added), and you wish to contest just the penalty amount, you should not pay the original fine amount.  Payment of any portion of the ticket is an admission of liability and prevents you from adjudicating any part of the ticket. 

Finally, DC DMV rivals almost any motor vehicle jurisdiction in terms of online services with more than forty transactions.  Therefore, we encourage you to take advantage of these online services to skip the in-person DMV trip and avoid the lines.  All DC local libraries have secure Internet connections to assist those without computers or Internet access.  Furthermore, most online services can also be done by mail; however, you should allow sufficient mailing time.

Although we have made improvements during the past year, we are aware more is needed, especially with the explosive increase in the District’s population.  Therefore, we will continue to move forward to identify and implement innovative operational processes, especially those aimed at reducing customers’ in-person visits.  Again, we appreciate the support we have received from the Council and look forward to continuing our efforts to improve the quality of service to the residents of the District of Columbia.   We will now address any questions you may have.  Thank You!