The Most Complained About DMV Experiences

No one likes going to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), in fact, most people would probably choose getting a root canal over waiting in one of those long lines. At the end of the day, a root canal procedure is shorter, and in some cases, less painful. Case in point, going to the DMV is not a fun day at the park, so here are the most common complaints about visiting America’s least favorite waiting room.

Waiting, waiting, and more waiting

As you can already imagine, everyone’s biggest complaint is having to wait in line. It doesn’t matter if your local DMV has a number system to help things go a little smoother, or if you’re even able to make an appointment ahead of time, you’re going to be waiting in some fashion. Whether you’re there to take a driver’s license test, renew your car’s registration, or even just sort out some paperwork, you can easily be sure to spend a few hours at the DMV.

In case you didn’t know, the DMV is a government-funded agency and there’s a limit to what the employees can and cannot do, which means that some offices in some states may have a better system than others. For example, in Nevada, the DMV has the ability to hold your place in line and it will even text you when it’s your turn so that you don’t have to physically wait at the office. On the contrary, the DMV system in New Jersey only offers appointments in three of its locations, and those appointments are only for inspections, which means they operate solely on a “first-come, first-serve” basis, so you can be sure you’ll be waiting a while if you live there.

The line outside the DMV office in South Los Angeles is long on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. The California Department of Motor Vehicles experienced a statewide computer outage Tuesday morning, disrupting many in–office services to customers. (Photo by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Rude and disgruntled DMV employees

Another common complaint about the DMV is the lack of empathy from its employees and other staff. That’s not to say that every DMV employee across the nation is completely disgruntled, but more often than not, you will find the person on the side of the counter with a solemn disposition.

Truth be told, DMV employees are basically in the same type of customer service line as anyone else, which means they have to put up with even more disgruntled customers every day. But, of course, it doesn’t help that neither party on either side of the counter really wants to be there, which ultimately contributes to the longer wait times.

STANTON, CA., JANUARY 2, 2015: Hundreds of people without legal status line-up inside the Department Of Motor Vehicles office in Stanton, California for an opportunity to get their drivers licenses January 2, 2015. The new law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a license is causing long lines like these that means at least a two-hour wait for those without an appointment (^^^ / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images ). (Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The instructions on the DMV website aren’t always clear either

While visiting the DMV office can be an unpleasant experience most of the time, the DMV websites in some states are all that much better. As a personal story, when I moved from California to Colorado, I went to the DMV to see what I needed to change my driver’s license. The DMV’s website clearly stated that I would need two different proofs of residence, my current license, and another form of I.D. However, when I got to the counter, the DMV employee asked for my social security card in addition to all of the forms I brought with me.

After I told her that I didn’t have it, she said that I would need to make another appointment and come back, which ended up being two months later. I double-checked the website again, and it doesn’t state anywhere that I needed to bring my social security card with me, which completely wasted my time.

Woman and daughter enter the Denver DMV to get a driver's license
Woman and daughter enter the Denver DMV to get a driver’s license | Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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What can you do to get a better DMV experience?

If you do need to visit the DMV in the future, there are ways that you make the experience quicker and easier. Always make sure to make an appointment first and make sure that you have all of the forms you need to bring with you. If you are unsure of all of the forms you need, then call the number for your local DMV office and make sure you get someone on the line to help you. Doing so could save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.