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Road Runner: Pandemic brings delays to Arizona's MVD services
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Road Runner

Road Runner: Pandemic brings delays to Arizona's MVD services

Customers may now complete many services online at azmvdnow.gov.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says there are staffing limitations at its Motor Vehicle Division because of coronavirus infections, quarantine requirements and employee caregiving needs that are all contributing to service delays for customers.

Today, statewide MVD offices can handle about 4,000 people a day, compared to the standard of about 14,000 under normal conditions, according to ADOT. In total, offices can hold just 10% capacity while health restrictions are in place.

It forced ADOT to limit its customers to those seeking first-time licenses or registrations. Services are completed only by appointments.

Officials said they can only count on 70% of its staff on workdays, but if a COVID-19 infection occurs in one of the offices, it could mean a potential shut down of the office as colleagues will have to be tested.

The department responded by creating a customer service hotline to handle appointments, but even it has its share of problems. By phone, customers experienced 30-minute delays before reaching one of the approximately 200 customer service representatives.

There has been improvement this month.

“In July, on our Customer Service Hotline — that’s a source of a lot of frustration — we were able to answer about 5,000 calls a day. Today, it’s about 13,000 calls a day on that line. So that’s a very healthy improvement,” Douglas Nick, ADOT’s assistant communications director for customer outreach.

Nick said staff who are able to work from home have been given call-routing software to service MVD customers as a way to combat the delays. There are about 110 people currently doing this.

However, even with the continued efforts to tackle the backlog, customers such as Bruce Hilpert are left waiting for important documents such as licenses and registration tabs.

What would have usually been a wait of two weeks or less for Hilpert turned into a six-week ordeal to find out where the document was.

“I went to a third-party vendor because when you go online to MVD, and try to get your license they say, ‘well, you have to come in only by appointment, but we’re not taking appointments,’ ” Hilpert said.

Hilpert paid $50 between the driver’s license fee and vendor’s services June 22. He had his photo taken for his license and was told about the wait of up to 14 days to receive it. But after three weeks passed without receiving the document, a response to his inquiries only revealed a delay.

The vendor said after speaking with an ADOT liaison that they had no clue where the document was, according to Hilpert.

There were also worries for Hilpert as he planned to use the license while on a three-month trip.

Hilpert’s further emails to ADOT were unsuccessful.

“I never got my license. It’s not like I lost it,” Hilpert said. “The supervisor’s response was: ‘It was issued. You will have to apply for and pay for a reissue,’ which cost me $12,” Hilpert said. He finally received the license Aug. 4.

The MVD’s newest mission could potentially provide a solution to these problems.

“What we’re actually looking at is how can we determine once something has left our possession, it goes into the mail, how long is it taking to get to the customer? That’s something that we’re actually looking to find a way to track,” Nick said.

Meanwhile, Arizonans have flocked to ADOT’s recently installed online system azmvdnow.gov which recently saw 1 million registered accounts. Customers have a free account linked to their driver and vehicle information, but it must be activated by the customer.

Customers can then complete two-thirds of services that would usually require an office visit, including a registration renewal, ordering a duplicate license and updating insurance information.

ADOT is reminding Arizonans that once a service is paid for online, a customer’s accurate status is updated within the MVD database, which is accessible to law enforcement.

Customers can also keep receipts after making payment for further proof.

However, with the uncertainties of the pandemic, it’s hard to pin down a future time when the additional items of proof will not be needed.

“The leadership and the operations people are trying to improve things that we’re doing and make things more efficient,” Nick said. “While things are not nearly where we want them to be or where they were prior to the pandemic, they are much better in August.”

Down the Road

Houghton Road interchange work begins this week: Crews will begin work on an interchange at South Houghton Road to improve access to Interstate 10 beginning Monday.

The new Houghton Road bridge will feature six lanes of traffic, compared with two lanes on the existing structure.

In the first week of construction, traffic impacts are expected to be minor as crews begin clearing areas in the work zone and mobilizing equipment.

The project will be completed in late 2021.

Guardrail work for I-10 in Vail: Motorists should expect short delays on the north side of I-10 and Arizona 83 for the next two weeks.

Crews will complete bridge work during the daytime hours as flaggers direct traffic. Any work requiring intermittent closures will be completed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Final road work in this area will be completed by mid-September.


Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or sdavis@tucson.com. On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1

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