The California Department of Motor Vehicles has a reputation for three things: long lines, long waits, seeming inefficiency. I probably could have paid my registration fees online and waited for the tag to arrive in the mail, but I had waited until the last possible minute to pay the fees and didn’t want to get pulled over by one of California’s finest.
I was prepared. I had a bottle of water and a book to read. I expected a long afternoon of it. Entering the large facility in Costa Mesa, I took my place at the end of the line where you get your number before waiting and waiting and waiting to be called to a “window” (really just a cleared spot on the counter that snaked around the middle of the warehouse-sized room).
Then I noticed a big blue and yellow kiosk and a sign that promoted self-serve vehicle registration. There were only 3 or 4 people in that line… I didn’t know if my paperwork would process without my being referred to a human helper, but I figured it was worth a shot. I moved to the shorter line at the kiosk.
Following the prompts on the touch screen, I placed my renewal notice under the red light beam so the barcode could be scanned. YAY! Appearing before my very eyes was all my information and a prompt asking me to indicate how I wanted to pay my fees: cash, e-check, or credit/debit card. Debit card. Insert. Swipe. Done! Out popped my registration card with the tag attached at one end. From another slot, a printed receipt. Wow! I was in and out of the DMV in under ten minutes with registration and tag in hand!
It seems all too rare that we have opportunity and cause to praise a government agency for being efficient and easy to do business with. Today, I was truly impressed by the small innovation of a registration-printing, tag-spewing kiosk.