- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Foul-ups on a new computer system called Destiny and learning how to use it caused impatience, contempt and anger yesterday among those awaiting service at D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles license and registration stations.
"It's ludicrous," said Harrison Thomas, 41, a photographer who lives in the Mount Pleasant community. He waited 3 hours at DMV's main office at 301 C St. NW before he was told he needed to have his recently purchased car inspected before he could register it and get license plates.
Many people were told they would have to pay parking tickets and traffic fines before they could obtain licenses and registrations. One man reportedly paid $700 in fines for offenses going back to 1990.
The $17 million computer, which displays old traffic violations and unpaid parking tickets, was a major reason for the long waiting lines yesterday, said DMV Director Sherryl Hobbs Newman.
"We're still testing," Mrs. Newman said.
Testing of Destiny, which began installation in February, will continue through May.
And many clerks apparently are still learning. Yesterday, two or three looked over the shoulders of clerks at 10 desks in the main office. And, well after the noon hour, 10 of the 20 desks were not in operation.
Watching and waiting were a couple hundred motorists seated in a central lobby and others standing along the walls. A double line of other motorists took turns going to an adjacent information desk to obtain a number for their turn at a registration-license desk.
One husky fellow came in, scowled and took his place at the end of the line. But within a minute, he walked past the front of the line and went to ask a question at the information desk. The clerk there said she would not answer his question and he would have to wait in line. Shaking his head in apparent disgust, the man tromped out.
The other stations are the new Penn Branch station in the shopping center at 3220 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; Brentwood at 1233 Brentwood Road NE, and at Georgetown Park Mall, 3222 M St. NW.
Paying fines for old traffic and parking violations before receiving licenses has always been a requirement, Mrs. Newman said. But Destiny apparently scans old records efficiently and more quickly than the old system did.
Angela Kalu, 35, who recently moved from Maryland to the 1100 block of Seventh Street NW, suggested that the computers at the four stations are not coordinated.
She went to the new Brentwood station two weeks ago to get a license for her car. Then, she went to another station to pay fines before returning to Brentwood.
"I gave her proof that all those tickets had been paid," Mrs. Kalu said. "She said that was not good enough. That's why I'm down here."
One woman, who had been waiting five hours at the C Street station, was told she would have to pay old tickets before she could get a license, Mr. Thomas said.
"I heard the lady say, 'I already dealt with this two years ago.' They told her they had to have proof," Mr. Thomas said.
He said the system is worse now than it was two years ago when he first got a car registered in the District. He only had to wait two hours then.
"Yeah, it took a while," said Kevin Chambers yesterday as he left the station with a new-car license. He said he had no traffic or parking tickets to be paid.
"I'm not complaining. I'm happy," Mr. Chambers said.

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