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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Snowballing demand pushes Honolulu DMV to its limits

Frustration is rising among Oahu residents who can’t get a timely appointment to obtain or renew a Hawaii driver’s license or state ID. Nola Miyasaki, director of Honolulu County’s Department of Customer Serv­ices, addresses common questions about the backlog:

Question: When will the driver’s license offices and satellite city halls reopen for full in-person serv­ice (beyond the walk-in express windows at certain satellite city halls)?

Answer: “We are still working under social distancing requirements to help ensure we are keeping customers safe and delivering services. So, for the foreseeable future, we will be working under limited physical capacity. We are already approaching 2019 levels of processing; however, that level of operation is just not sufficient to complete the backlog from 2020 and meet the current demand for 2021 applications. That is the problem we are facing.”

By “full in-person serv­ice,” the reader means walk-in service, which is limited; license and ID renewal require an appointment. However, locations may offer standby service, filling in no-show reservations, said Harold Nedd, a CSD spokesman. People who have plenty of time to wait outside could try it, knowing that service that day is not guaranteed. Be sure your location offers standby service for your transaction.

For locations and other information, see honolulu.gov/csd.

Q: When will the AlohaQ appointment system reopen to licenses and state IDs that expire within six months?

A: “The AlohaQ appointment system is currently open for six months out; however, the date filter prevents people from making appointments prior to three months before the expiration of the license or ID. That system will be maintained for the foreseeable future.”

The reservation system is at www.alohaq.org. Many readers tell Kokua Line the filter prevented them from making an appointment that will occur before their license expires.

Q: Why is the city having so much trouble getting out from under this backlog? Now that the CDC has eased the requirements about disinfection, with the city be able to quicken the pace? (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that in most cases the risk of catching COVID-19 by touching a surface is low. It has revised its advice about surface cleaning, allowing people to spend less time on this task. Read more at 808ne.ws/cleancdc.)

A: “We are looking at more ways to expand capacity and do more express lane and managed walk-in transactions to offset cancellations and no-shows. We are also considering ways to free up our concierge and triage staff from doing sanitizing and monitoring the lines so that all our staff can work on transactions. We have close to twice the number of transactions that we normally would have due to COVID-19.

“At the beginning of the year, there were 90,000 driver’s licenses and state identification cards that were expired and not renewed. That is added to the currently expired or expiring driver’s licenses and state IDs, which total 146,000. So, that total transaction is almost twice our normal volume. With COVID-19 restrictions, our capacity is still low.

“With the current budget restrictions as well as the physical constraints reducing our normal capacity, we are not able to accommodate every single expired driver’s license and state ID immediately. It will take some time. We understand that the current expiration for driver’s licenses and state identification cards is June 8, and that there are many more people with expired credentials than we can possibly accommodate.

“Every other state in the country is having this problem. We are doing our best to help as many people as possible, and it’s our goal to eliminate the backlog by the end of the year. To help us achieve that goal, we are looking at expanding hours and opening on Saturdays. That will require adding temporary contract staff and overtime hours to meet demand.

“We are still required to maintain social distancing due to COVID-19, so the number of counters open will not be changing, this is why the expanded hours are the more critical aspect of being able to accommodate more customers. We also are in the process of establishing a call center to help people with questions — we are doing everything we can to allow our staff to be at the counters to process more driver’s licenses and state ID transactions, instead of helping to answer calls and provide information. Soon that will be done by dedicated call center support.”


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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