Raleigh - Through extended hours at various driver license offices, expanded availability of online services and enhanced customer service training for driver license examiners, 2016 was a banner year for North Carolina's Division of Motor Vehicles as it continued to implement Governor Pat McCrory's "Driving Change" initiative.
"This has been an exciting year for DMV as we worked to improve our customer service and decrease wait times at our offices through Governor McCrory's Driving Change' initiative," Commissioner Kelly J. Thomas said. "Providing excellent customer service will continue to be our goal in 2017."
The year's signature accomplishment occurred in September, when the number of drivers who used DMV's online services to renew their license surpassed 500,000. DMV officials estimate that more than 602,000 citizens will have renewed their driver licenses online by the end of the year.
Improvements took place offline as well. In June, DMV introduced mandatory customer service training for all driver license examiners. A total of 120 classes were held in 2016.
DMV introduced new mobile driver license offices in March. The units, which are the first of their kind in the nation, carry two examiner stations and serve more remote parts of the state. In September, mobile units were used to offer driver license services at Fort Bragg for the first time since 2008.
Throughout the year, 50 driver license offices were renovated and upgraded with modern equipment as part of a program to optimize all 113 offices across North Carolina. DMV also expanded operating hours at its busiest offices around the state, including weekend hours in some locations.
In September, DMV announced it would no longer require road sign tests for drivers renewing their licenses, and nearly 300 citizens renewed their driver licenses at the DMV booth during the N.C. State Fair in October.
During the response to Hurricane Matthew, more than 100 agents with the DMV's License and Theft Bureau were deployed to affected areas of eastern North Carolina and provided security to various shelters. DMV also proactively educated consumers about how to avoid purchasing flood-damaged vehicles.
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, Governor McCrory directed the DMV to temporarily waive certain fees for customers in counties affected by the storm, which resulted in hurricane victims saving more than $977,000 in license and vehicle fees.
In January 2017, DMV will conduct its second biennial "Voice of the Customer" online survey to gather customer feedback on driver services and ways to improve. DMV implemented all but two of the 18 customer recommendations resulting from the 2014 "Voice of the Customer" survey.
In February, DMV offices will start issuing REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and ID cards in anticipation of the federal government beginning enforcement of REAL ID requirements at airport security checkpoints on Jan. 22, 2018. While REAL ID-compliant credentials are not mandatory in North Carolina, DMV has worked diligently to meet the federal requirements to ensure citizens with a North Carolina REAL ID will be able to use it to board commercial aircraft after January 2018 and gain access to federal installations and nuclear facilities in the future. After Jan. 22, 2018, travelers without a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card may show a North Carolina driver license or ID in conjunction with another federally-approved form of identification to board commercial flights. REAL ID will not replace a passport.
DMV now offers driver license renewals and many other services online. Customers are encouraged to check the official DMV website at www.ncdot.gov/dmv and click "Online Services" to see if their driver license needs can be met online.