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COVID, budget cuts lead to long wait times at the DMV

Posted at 9:17 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 23:43:39-05

TULSA, Okla. — A trip to the DMV may require months of planning, or you could find yourself standing outside for hours.

Nearly a dozen people lined up outside the Tulsa Eastgate DMV before 5 a.m. on a cold and windy January morning. Some came prepared with blankets and chairs. All, waiting their turn to get inside.

“They said to get here at 3:15 a.m., otherwise you got a long wait," said Tim, who was waiting outside. "It’s gonna be a long day.”

Those in line don’t have appointments, but that’s not for a lack of trying.

“I even tried to go online and do an appointment," Tim said. "And the closest one was Aug. 13 down in Muskogee.”

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety said the lines aren’t only a problem here at the Tulsa Eastgate DMV, but also at other DMV's across the state. They’re currently booking appointments 60-days out with new appointments coming online at 6 p.m. each night.

DPS said COVID, budget cuts and the Real ID all contribute to the backlog.

“It created the perfect storm for us," said Sarah Stewart with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. "And so we’re trying to do the best we can and thinking outside of the box and trying to service as many people as we can. But we’re bound by the money and the resources that we have right now.”

DPS said it used CARES Act funds to open some locations on Saturdays for CDL drivers and is looking at other ways to provide more services.

In the meantime, they suggest making sure you know when your license is expiring and renewing it online if you can. And for others, like teens getting their learner’s permit or license, make sure to schedule months in advance so you don’t have to wait outside.

“We know there are long lines out there," Stewart said. "We’re working on it daily. And just ask for your patience right now. You know, we’re all trying to catch up from the pandemic and everything else that’s going on. And we’re working hard. We just want people to know we’re aware and we hear their frustrations.”

DPS said walk-ins are welcome at certain locations, but those with appointments will go first. Click here to view the locations.

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