Dallas County Should Run the Texas DMV

So last week I dropped by the Record Building downtown to pick up new license plates. “Dropped by” is accurate: the entire transaction took about four minutes. Contrast that with the Department of Motor Vehicles, where a four-hour wait is the norm*.

Maybe John Ames, the county tax assessor, should be hired to reform how the DMV does business. Or Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. The average wait in Indiana’s DMV is 6.5 minutes.

* I would love it if someone from the DMV would like to challenge that estimate. But they won’t. And the reason they won’t is that they don’t know if it’s true or not, because unlike Indiana, they don’t time their performance. They don’t time their performance because that would measure their performance. Of course, measurement is the first step to improvement. But don’t tell Texas that.


  • Tom

    And Ames is a Democrat, while 99.9 percent of Austin is run by the GOP. Hmmm.

  • Amy S

    I’ve never seen a group of people so unhappily unemployed, either. Threatened to throw my sixteen year old out of the offices on her birthday if the line went longer than their closing time. They spent 45 minutes letting everyone know they propably wouldn’t make it to the desk. Very anti-social and non user-friendly.

    The county offices on Marsh are as quick and friendly. So is Tom Thumb.

  • David

    I moved here from Indiana about 2 years ago and had a few interaction’s with Mitch Daniel’s DMV and I can tell you that what he accomplished was nothing short of amazing (politics completely aside). I used the DMV before he reformed it and after and it was like night and day. The end result was going into a more retail-like environment where the customer is always right and where it seemed like everyone’s incentives were aligned to give you the quickest and smoothest experience. At the time I read that they went through training for everyone who worked at the DMV to get them to smile more, address you by your name, and they got rewarded for moving you through quickly and ensuring a positive experience. Now when I had to get my new license here on the other hand….don’t even get me started.

  • dk

    Travis County is also very efficient. In fact they have a large drive through service window. When I lived in Austin it never took more that 5 minutes for any transaction. The drivers license portion of the DPS is truly terrible. The fastest of the bunch is located in CityHall – they only offer renewals I think, not new licenses.

  • BrandonS

    I went to the DMV in McKinney earlier this month, thinking it would be faster than the one I had been to in the past, at Parker & Custer in Plano. It was not. All in all, I waited 4.5 hours (1:00-5:30pm). I enjoyed the two phases of waiting. There was the 2+hr “outside wait”, where you simply stood in one unsupervised line and waited to go inside. Unsupervised lines–>people try to cut–>arguments–>the bad guy (or in my case, bad woman) sometimes wins. Right before you go inside there’s a notice on the door warning you that you may be waiting for another 2+hrs, and tries to justify the long outside line by saying the building was not built (in 2001 mind you) to handle the unexpected growth in Collin County. Not sure what NCTCOG forecasts they were reading back then. So then you go inside and get the “number wait”, where you’re given a deli ticket and you watch as 4 different and peculiar parameters of numbers are called. Additional highlights include:
    – Out of 8 available stations, 3 were open
    – Each of the 3 open stations had TWO people “working” them. An actual worker, and then some sort of supervisor that did nothing.
    – One of the workers (not supervisors) answered the phone and proceeded to give directions to the DMV, and only at the end of the long conversation did she say “even if you got here now, you probably won’t be seen before we close”. At no point did the supervisor take over the station.
    – If a station called a number and nobody came up, they waited 3 to 4 minutes before moving to the next number.
    – One worker had a problem manning the camera, and had to re-take photos several times
    – When I was finally seen, the worker made lots of casual small talk with me. Friendly as it may be, I was ready to conclude my afternoon at the TxDPS, and wanted my new best friends behind me to get their licenses before they stopped seeing people.

  • Sammy

    Every person who complains about the DMV and has continued to vote Republican in Texas elections needs to hush up.

    This is what we get when we don’t want to pay taxes.

    As for the Dallas County folks, I’m always amazed at how quickly everything gets done. I think the last time I paid my auto taxes online, I got the sticker in the mail within 2 days.

  • Bob

    My last in-person visit with DMV was like the ones related above, except that it was also rainy and cold. When I had to renew my drivers license last week, I decided to try the on-line renewal service that seems to be available to some(?) renewing drivers. I was astonished when the whole procedure took less than five minutes, for a $1 convenience fee, and I was able to do it all in my underwear. They need to use the person or persons who designed and implemented the on-line renewal system to redesign and implement the office procedures. Mayber that is something that Rick Perry could take on, now that he has a lot more free time. Since he appointed the people in charge of this system, and since he takes credit for whatever is right and good and wonderful in Texas, I figure that he is responsible for this as well.

  • BrandonS

    @Sammy, Iet’s talk in 5 years if and when our National healthcare system is up-and-running.

  • 180WestBrooks

    Not familiar with Indiana’s program, but it sounds great. In Oklahoma, this service is outsourced to third party “tag agencies”, and it runs quite smoothly. If you get bad service at one agency, you have other options. For that reason, the agencies go out of their way to provide outstanding service. They know what they sell is a commodity you can buy from another tag agent a mile or two away.

    I will say when I lived in Fort Worth/Tarant County, renewing my tags at the DMV office really didn’t take that long. Sounds like it may be a county by county issue.

  • Amy S

    Remember when the Texas Sunset Commission told the truth and offered real solutions for government agencies? Sigh.

    You can’t deny that the Texas Republican Party hated Carol Keeton Strayhorn for her fiscal honesty – and they politically buried her for that in the last Governors race.

  • fred

    I’m not sure if it’s full service but I had to go to DMV aka TDPS at Dallas City Hall twice a couple of years ago…very easy!

  • Kakhi Jack

    I get my driver’s license renewed downtown. I have taken my elderly grandfather and even been dragged with friends during lunch. While parking can be tricky, I have never waited longer than twenty minutes. In fact, there have rarely been more than 5 people in line…

  • elaino

    governments job is not to improve

    its to dictate

  • Bob Loblaw

    @Sammy,–we do pay taxes. Quite a lot in fact. Years ago, the rates were lower and there were fewer people in Dallas to pay the taxes. Yet there was money to build pools and libraries (and keep them open). The roads were in good shape. What has changed? They take in more than they ever have; complain it’s not enough; and yet keep cutting services. I mean this as a serious question,–why does it takes so much more to do so much less?

  • CollinBabs

    I had to take my 85 year old mother to the DMV on I-30 in Garland to renew her license because she got a letter in the mail that she had to appear and verify her citizenship!?! BTW — Her first name is Delores – wonder if she was mistakenly profiled as Hispanic? Well, it was not a fun 4.5 hours. We finally got to the clerk’s window and it took all of 10 minutes. Totally unnecessary ordeal and actually rather scary at times depending on who/what was sitting next to you. Not enough chairs for people, crying kids, and no clear instructions once you walk in the door. Awful awful awful!!!!!

  • JB

    TxDMV TxDPS !!! One contracts with your local tax assessor-collector to hand out license plates and car titles, and the other issues drivers’ licenses. Two completely, and -most importantly- statutorily separate state agencies.

  • Wm B. Travis

    Yeah, lay-off of DMV. Please edit Wick’s post. And get him a drink.

  • Mike

    Visa and MasterCard automatically renew my credit card, why can’t Texas automatically renew the Driver’s License? Just sayin’.

  • Paul

    They’ve come a long way. Years ago I remember a very, very long wait to renew my plates. There were four or five windows open, but for each transaction, each of the clerks would go back to a single clerk where they would get in line and wait. And wait. Needless to say, this was a huge bottleneck. I remember the man in front of me turning and asking if they had trained in Soviet Russia. Kudos on the improvement.