WATERBURY, CT — Drivers across the state have been frustrated that it’s taken so long for the Department of Motor Vehicles to reopen, but it’s slowly starting to happen.
“Who would have thought everybody was missing the DMV?” Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday.
New drivers and drivers looking to register a new vehicle will be allowed to start making appointments at a handful of DMV branches.
New drivers will be able to take learner’s knowledge tests to get their permits at Wethersfield, Cheshire, Willimantic, Old Saybrook, Norwalk and Danbury.
Registration services will be offered at Wethersfield, Willimantic and Danbury.
To make an appointment, visit: https://portal.ct.gov/dmv/
Road testing also began Tuesday.
The DMV said around 1,000 road tests have been rescheduled through June 30 and DMV staff members have been calling customers to schedule previously cancelled appointments.
The experience of going to the DMV will be much different than in the past. Plexiglass will separate customers and social distancing will be in place. There will also be temperature checks and screening measures for customers.
And not all the DMV employees have returned to work.
DMV Commissioner Sibongile Magubane said they have not brought back all their employees at the same time. She said they’re starting some working from home and others will rotate through the offices.
“We’re trying to figure out with the spacing a social distancing and everything else,” Magubane said.
She said in Waterbury they have 282 employees, and they have 162 rotating at the moment. She said other 120 began working this week from home because they are beginning to “pre-check” the transactions through a new system they’re introducing.
Magubane said any transaction that requires documents to be certified will be run through the new “pre-check” system.
She said they can begin talking about bringing all the employees back once they set up the structure to see how it works.
“We’re getting very close to being able to make that next decision,” Magubane said.
Deputy Commissioner Antonio Guerrera said the more technology they’re able to deploy, the fewer customers will have to set foot in a DMV.
But some of the online systems are still complicated.
Last week, a steady stream of people continued to show up at the DMV office in Wethersfield.
“Right now they’re shunning people away. They’re saying go online, go online but when you go online there’s roadmap to where you have to go,” Karen Moore of New Haven told NBC Connecticut.
Robert Ffrench showed up to register a vehicle and get a permit — only to be told to go online.
“When you go online you get that little COVID message and it says click here for more and every time you click on it, you don’t get more it just brings you back up to the top COVID message. So you’re in a giant loop over and over,” Ffrench said.
Although the DMV extended the deadlines for license and registration renewals and emissions tests, remote processing of new registrations is taking up to four weeks.
Magubane said Tuesday that they hope to begin making a dent in the backlog as more employees return to work.
Parents have been expressing their frustration about the length of time it’s taken to get a learners permit.
Jen Cooper of Middletown has a son who is ready to take his license test. It was supposed to be March 26, just days after the DMV closed. Since then, she hasn’t heard from the DMV or his driving school about when he will be able to take his test.
“It is frustrating because he had his last class to take before the test and he would’ve been done so he could start working in his trade this summer and get a job lined up for work — base learning hours for school for September,” Cooper told CTNewsJunkie last week.