Saving the DMV, one kiosk at a time

| by Bradley Cooper
Saving the DMV, one kiosk at a time

Imagine a man arriving at a DMV office only to see a line that stretches from the front desk to the parking lot. Despite his frustration, he has no other choice but to endure the line since today is the deadline to renew his license. It is the dead of winter and temperatures are far below freezing. The man bundles up with his sweater, hat, jacket, and gloves and leaves his car to endure the madness.

By the time he finally enters the DMV office, he finds out the heat is on full blast, and there is no place he can place his jacket, hat, and sweater. The heat grows steadily worse as he slowly inches forward to the front desk, and he starts to sweat profusely underneath his layers of clothing. At last, he finally sees the DMV employee, but then he feels his vision go black and his knees buckle before the crippling heat. When he finally wakes up, he sees the confused faces of several people who have dragged him over to a chair. Luckily, my father was allowed to move to the front of the line after this incident.

While your experience may not be so dramatic, we all have horror stories of the DMV. People prefer going to the dentist than going to the DMV and the data proves it. According to a study performed by, half of all visits to the DMV have a wait time of half an hour or more. Some Ohio residents mention this wait time issue is horrible because there simply aren’t enough DMV offices in the area.

“New drivers to Ohio have only two DMV locations in Hamilton County (population 800,000) to get their license, both options on the northern border of the county and over 20 minutes from downtown Cincinnati,” said James Bonsall, Business Analyst for Humana in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Yet, there is an alternative to this madness. DMVs are deciding that self-service kiosks on off-site locations will help solve the long wait times for their offices. The Ohio Department of Public Safety plans to set up these kiosks in a variety of supermarkets in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus.

According to an Associated Press report, these kiosks will only be printing out license registration stickers. This will be a pilot test by the Ohio DMV to see if the kiosks are successful. In order to use the kiosks, customers will have to bring both their driver’s license and credit card.

In addition to these new kiosks, the Ohio DMV also offers many online services such as the ability to update your address and renew your license plate on their website. However, Ohio residents are still skeptical about this development. “While a self-service kiosk would be nice for renewals and other things, there really should be an online or phone option to handle these types of things,” Bonsall said.

In addition, the Ohio DMV is not the only state that is utilizing off site kiosks to reduce wait times and improve customer satisfaction. The Nevada DMV released their self-service kiosks in 2004. These kiosks have been updated twice, once in 2008 and again in 2012. These kiosks are available at a variety of DMV offices and on 28 off site locations throughout Nevada. They offer a significant number of services including registration renewal, driver history printout, driver license renewal and duplicate driver license printouts. According to the Nevada DMV website, these kiosks are used 45,000 times per month.

The Nevada DMV also offers dash passes for customers to text the DMV to be put on the wait list. The DMV then updates the user with text messages as their appointment time approaches. These tools help reduce wait times significantly in their DMV locations.

Kiosks offer a convenient alternative to the nightmare of long DMV lines. If Ohio continues the pattern of successful kiosk utilization, we might see these measures adopted by other state DMVs as well. Hopefully more states will adopt the attitude of the Nevada DMV which stated in a promo video, “It’s not that we don’t want to see you, we just don’t want you to have to see us.”

(Photo by Marques Stewart.)

Topics: Custom Kiosks, Government, Outdoor Kiosks, Trends / Statistics

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.

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