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COLUMN: KEEP OREGON MOVING

Upgrades to the computer systems have allowed the Department of Motor Vehicles to expand their online services.

Even in the best of times, people often associate DMV with waiting rooms, testing, finding the documents they need to bring, and waiting for their number to be called.

Like everyone else in Oregon, DMV was hit hard over the last year with a seemingly endless series of misfortunes: wildfires, ice storms and, of course, the devastating pandemic. We work hard to keep up and maintain service, but inevitably the speed of our services has suffered in the last year despite our best efforts.

We can see, however, better days coming with many routine DMV obligations getting easier. New technologies are helping us not just catch up more quickly with our COVID-19 backlog but offer new services that will be available for years to come.

The waiting rooms, for many of us, are fading into the past — with appointments, sometimes there is no wait at all. The next time you need DMV, we hope the process will be easier and quicker.

For one thing, our 50-year-old computer systems are gone. The old system did more than its creator imagined but also made it nearly impossible to offer many of the online services the public has a right to expect. Last July, DMV completed a major computer upgrade. The good news is you probably heard nothing about it. It seems like the public only hears about a government computer upgrade when something goes wrong. Not this time.

AMY JOYCEThis is all part of our priority to use innovative technologies to build a modern transportation system. Technology offers new opportunities, and we're doing what we can to keep up. It's more than just offering online services but upgrading our entire system in the months and years ahead in ways that will help all Oregonians travel safely and efficiently. New technologies will ensure a smooth highway toll system, for example, without anyone stopping to toss coins into a basket.

These recent upgrades have allowed us to make real strides forward. Perhaps most importantly, we've been able to address our severe service backlog. The backlog is still way too long, and we're working hard at it. But at the same time, the pandemic has accelerated our transition to online services.

In March 2020, when pandemic closures hit Oregon, DMV offered three services online. Today we offer 21 different online services, and that number will increase. These include ordering a replacement license or ID card, changing your address, checking your driving record, making appointments, and ordering new plates. We jumped on everything we could find to develop new technologies to expand online services.

For ways you can skip the trip to DMV, visit our website (oregondmv.com/dmv2ueServices/_/).

Perhaps the biggest upgrade is coming later this spring when you'll be able to renew your driver's license or ID card totally online. Those renewals are the single most common reason for stopping at a DMV office.

Also, since July, Oregonians have the option of a Real ID version of their card — you'll need an appointment and additional documents to apply for it. You may recall that the upgraded Oregon driver's license or ID card had been scheduled as necessary — among other forms of ID, such as a passport — for commercial air travel by Oct. 1, 2020. But because of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security postponed the start of the requirement until Oct. 1, 2021.

In Oregon, Real ID is an option. If you travel by air, you may have another form of ID acceptable at airport security checkpoints starting Oct. 1. Find out what your best choice will be for air travel ID at Oregon.gov/RealID.

Our transformation continues. We're looking for more ways you can take care of your DMV business and not just online. We are exploring, for example, using self-service kiosks to bring DMV closer to home. Like an ATM for DMV services. Maybe you'll see us at your local grocery store in the future next to the movie rental machine. Throughout these upgrades, we will keep you informed about new options and gather feedback.

We recognize the many needs of Oregonians and value learning what our customers would like us to tackle next.


Amy Joyce is the administrator of Oregon Driver & Motor Vehicle Services. Questions can be directed to 888-Ask-ODOT.


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