AGENCY PEFORMANCE OVERSIGHT HEARING ON FISCAL YEARS 2015 – 2016
Testimony of Lucinda Babers, Director Department of Motor Vehicles
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 FY15 and year-to-date FY16 DC DMV accomplishments, on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser, 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 606,000 licensed drivers/identification card holders and 303,000 registered vehicles at four service centers. We provide adjudication services and collect ticket payments for more than 2.4 million tickets issued annually, including conducting over 189,000 in-person and mail hearings. We also conduct over 187,000 annual vehicle inspections. DMV interacts with DC residents and non-residents, with an average of 3,400 daily customer contacts—more than almost any other District government agency.
During FY15, the Mayor laid the groundwork and positioned the District for future growth and prosperity as all agencies worked towards common goals and pathways to the middle class. In year two, year-to-date FY16, we continued our efforts to streamline and improve service delivery. Following are highlights of our past accomplishments.
With the October 1, 2014 implementation of the adjudication reconsideration process, which allow customers held liable for an adjudication request to submit additional documents for reconsideration prior to requesting an appeal, we have reduced ticket appeal requests by over 75%.
In April 2015, we rolled out a new knowledge test system with 15 languages; and the system is fully integrated into our licensing system. There are also practice knowledge tests online in seven languages. Additionally, we enhanced our online driver manual to include additional information on pedestrian, bicyclist and streetcar safety, in support of the Mayor’s Vision Zero initiative. There is also a “Sharing the Road Quiz,” encouraging drivers to be mindful of others on the roadways, to further support Vision Zero.
The knowledge test enhancements were critical in our efforts to provide driver licenses to our undocumented population. Although we continue to have a limited purpose appointment list of approximately 6,000 appointments, many which are duplicates, we are working with the Office of Latino Affairs, the Office of Human Rights and community advocates to expedite the process. To date, we have conducted seven document check blitzes that serviced 1,047 residents and held fifteen Special Monday openings for 916 expedited appointments. Regardless of our efforts, it is critical for residents to study and prepare for the knowledge test to reduce the 19% limited purpose failure rate.
In terms of online enhancements, over the past year, we decreased the need for in-person visits and streamlined operations by adding several new online functions. These include allowing customers to check the mailing status of a credential, obtain a disability placard, renew vehicle reciprocity, acquire an exemption for the registration of out of state automobile (or ROSA), submit a request for an Occupational Limited License, conduct an online self-assessment of driver safety and request the appeal of a ticket to the Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board.
Another major initiative was the October 2015 rollout of a new DMV website. As you know, DMV requires accurate and consistent information for customers to transact business, whether online, by mail or in-person. Our website is the backbone for providing customer information. The new website is streamlined, customer focused and ADA compliant. We also introduced a “Know Before You Go” campaign, encouraging customers to visit our website or call 311 to determine needed documents prior to making an in-person visit. The campaign used radio, metro ads, cinema ads, social media and newspaper print ads to get the word out.
In coordination with the Department of Human Services and social service advocates, we also revised the Social Service form to allow homeless residents to provide a contact address for a relative or friend who agrees to receive their mail. In addition to providing residency verification for a no-fee identification card, the form can now also be used for certifying residency for a for-fee driver license.
With assistance from the Department of General Services, on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, we are scheduled to relocate our Penn Branch Service Center into a new facility located in Ward 7 at 4525 Benning Road, SE. This facility, which offers licensing, identification, registration and titling services and HIV screening, will provide both employees and customers with an improved facility for conducting District government business. For the first time in over 20 years, we are also in the process of renovating the customer and employee areas of the Inspection Station.
As always, prior to closing, I would like to remind the listening public of a few important DC DMV tips. To avoid insurance lapse fines and possible registration suspension, insurance must be maintained on all vehicles 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 and 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 (which means a penalty has been 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 over fifty 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 for us to receive your documentation prior to the indicated deadlines.
Although we have made improvements during the past year, we are aware more is always needed. Therefore, we will continue to move forward to identify and implement innovative operational processes, especially those aimed at reducing customers’ in-person visits and streamlining processes and procedures. 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. Lastly, we would like to thank Mayor Bowser for her continued leadership and commitment to good government and accountability. We will now address any questions you may have. Thank You!