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Posted by on Mar 3, 2023 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

What Happened to the Crowds at DMV?



Ask around about the places we all dread visiting the most, and the DMV office frequently gets mentioned. However, to my great surprise, yesterday’s visit to the local DMV here in Las Vegas was a breeze. I was in (and out) in 15 minutes.

First, here’s some background. I’ve lived in Las Vegas for 21 years. So, I’ve made dozens of visits to the local DMV, for myself and with family members. In years past, going to the DMV was an all-day affair. You walked in, waited….and waited….and waited. It was worse than sitting inside a bus station waiting for a missed connection next to the crying baby.

However, things have improved — dramatically. It’s gotten better each time, especially lately Thursday’s visit, at 1:30 pm was shockingly easy and efficient. The main reason for such ease and efficiency was simple: FEWER PEOPLE (no crowds).

To appreciate this, you have to know what the chaos was like *before.* The DMV office that I use most of the time is at 8200 W. Flamingo. It’s the largest (and busiest) office in Nevada. I estimate that up to 1,000 people at a time used to wait inside this DMV. Then, the line outside was often 40-50 people long. Lines used to start forming at 6:30 am. It was hell. The reason for the huge crowds was simple: Lots of people were moving to Nevada. That meant many new citizens had to obtain driver’s licenses. Another reason was — this is is a transient city with a huge used car market, and transferring titles/plates/etc. tends to jam up the works.

So, explain this to me. Why are there so many *fewer* people at the DMV (in Las Vegas)? Based on demographics, data, and simple math, this makes no sense.


One possible explanation is that DMV visits are now mostly by appointment. Admittedly, this helps significantly with wait times. However, there are also more people living in Nevada now, than ever before. There are no new DMV offices, and the offices in operation appear to have the same hours, and staffing (also, the same number of teller windows). So, simply because most people do make online reservations doesn’t change the NUMBERS of people who need DMV services. The math doesn’t compute. In other words, appointments should increase efficiency, instead of everything being a first-come, first-serve clusterfuck of a free-for-all. But it doesn’t decrease the workload of each office. In fact, Nevada’s population continues to grow, so the problem *should* be getting worse. It’s not getting worse. It’s gotten much better.

Was I just lucky on my most recent visits? Is anyone else having this “luck?” I’m curious to learn why the once-dreaded DMV has suddenly become so much better than the crowded hellhole it was before.

Oh, and whatever the explanation — hooray to the DMV and NV’s Department of Transportation. We often hear complaints and criticize things that don’t work properly. Let’s credit them on doing something good. Whatever the DMV is doing now seems to be working. Reminded me of the no-stress experience of visiting a government office in Holland.


Photo Above: Taken on a Thursday at approx. 1:40 pm. Five years ago, every seat would have been taken, and there would have been lines up and down the hallways.

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