Tuesday, August 16, 2005


This has been a hard summer for theDistrict’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Efforts to improve services by opening modern facilities have been set back by technical and logistics problems.

“This is a crisis of crisis proportions for the DMV,” department spokeswoman Janis Hazel said yesterday.

Three of the agency’s facilities are undergoing construction or major renovation. As work continues on a new headquarters, services at the current leased facility have been disrupted since the air conditioning broke Aug. 5.

The closed office usually handles about 120 daily hearings for moving violations. It also handles many walk-in appeals for parking, insurance and inspection violations. At least 840 scheduled hearings have been missed — giving drivers a gift.

“They got a free pass because we didn’t have any place to hold the hearings,” Miss Hazel said.

Dismissal notifications are pending for hearings scheduled from Aug. 8 to 19.

Fines for nonmoving violations, which would have doubled during the 12-day period, also will be adjusted.

City officials are negotiating with the building’s owners to get the cooling system repaired so DMV employees can finish removing their equipment and files.

The problems led the D.C. Department of Public Works to cancel yesterday’s planned auction of abandoned and seized vehicles.

“Some owners might not have been able to get to DMV to pay the fines or fees,” public works spokeswoman Mary Myers said.

Signs across the city to obtain information on retrieving booted or towed vehicles list the phone number 202/727-5000. But because the DMV’s call center has been temporarily closed, only a recorded message is available.

“We’ve been taking a lot of the DMV’s calls,” said Janice Quintana, operations manager of the mayor’s Citywide Call Center.

The DMV’s only vehicle-emissions inspection station has been forced to close or adjust operating hours several times this summer because of uncomfortable working conditions.

“We have to be cognizant of our workers as well as the public,” Miss Hazel said.

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