- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

GARNER, N.C. (AP) - What can be a most tedious exercise - waiting at the DMV to obtain or renew a license - should get shorter, North Carolina state officials said Monday. And more drivers won’t even have to go in person.

Gov. Pat McCrory and Division of Motor Vehicles leaders visited a Wake County DMV office to announce the rollout of efforts to improve DMV statewide. He also signed a bill into law to allow the use of “e-signatures” for people to receive vehicle title and registration copies.

“This is major customer service changes in North Carolina,” McCrory told ceremony attendees in Garner. “We’re in the 21st century - government’s going to start treating you like you’re in the 21st century.”

The “Driving Change” initiatives have been worked on since 2013, and some improvements already are in place, such as extended and weekend hours at certain offices.

The 25 busiest DMV offices also are first getting updated technology like cameras at every license examiner station. Credit and debit card payments are now accepted. Self-service online kiosks coming to offices as they get high-tech equipment and decorative upgrades also will mean fewer people in license queues, according to the state.

Country star and “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery, a Garner native, spoke at the event as an informal town ambassador.

“I don’t want Scotty to be late for a concert and I don’t want his fans to be late for a concert when they go get a driver’s license in the future,” the governor said.

McCrory and DMV also formally unveiled the ability to renew driver’s licenses online at the DMV website, bypassing driver’s license offices altogether. Online renewals have been going on since June in a testing phase and have been used by more than 100,000 people. Like in-person licenses, those renewed online are mailed to motorists in a week or two.

Commercial driver’s license holders and motorists with license restrictions other than corrective lenses still must go in person to renew. Conventional adult drivers also will have to go in person the next time after an online renewal, DMV said.

New licenses have a coating that prevents cracking and fading and more anti-theft enhancements. People who have renewed online already have received the upgraded licenses.

DMV is also purchasing seven new mobile offices with equipment that can fit in the back of special sport utility vehicles to serve less populated areas. The equipment should reduce the cost of issuing a driver’s license or ID card by 60 percent, the division said.

McCrory also scheduled a similar event in Asheville later Monday, the same day that Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, announced his bid to unseat him in 2016.

McCrory, a Republican, mentioned in his Garner speech a story he likes to tell about how a long wait at his local DMV in 2011 cinched it with him to run the next year after losing to Democrat Beverly Perdue in 2008. He said the poor experience made it a goal of his to improve state government customer service.

“It’s a major objective that we’ve fulfilled and I promised when I became governor,” he said.

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Online:

Division of Motor Vehicles: https://ncdot.gov/dmv/


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