Around Town

How to avoid insanity at the DMV

The Story

The hubby and I recently had to go to the DMV to register a new car in both our names. Zero fun.


We picked the one closest to our house, the Arrowood office. The parking lot is lousy, you can barely see the sign for the DMV and once you get in, a long line snakes throughout the bleak room. Long wait, hardly any seats.


When we left, a homeless person sitting in a wheelchair outside the door asked if he could put any license plates on for us. Just … depressing. As a friend said: “Basically avoid Arrowood at all costs. It’s the only place you wait outside for the privilege of waiting all over again inside.”

Eek – how can I avoid that experience?

For the record, the staff at Arrowood was perfectly pleasant and efficient. It’s just a popular office, I guess. For next time around, I’ve learned a few things:

(1) DMVs are not like election polling sites. You don’t have to go to the one closest to you. In fact, the farther away from Charlotte and the more rural, the better. (You might want to call before you go, though, just to confirm that a particular office can handle your matter. However, you can get your license renewed at any NC DMV.)

According to my sources (i.e., Facebook friends), go to:

  • Huntersville office: “The one in Huntersville has a whole bunch of chairs and you get a number so you’re not standing in line. It makes a big difference. Basically, don’t go to a sucky DMV.”
  • Concord or Monroe office: “Don’t go to any of the main offices. I’ve been to Concord and Monroe and while the drive may be longer, the wait is not.”
  • Gastonia/Belmont/Mt. Holly
  • Boone: “Seek out a small-town DMV. The one in Boone is terrific, if you happen to be in the area when you need to have it renewed. I was the only one in the office and was in and out in 15 minutes last time I renewed.”

(2) If you don’t have time for a country drive, go to …:

    • The Independence Blvd. DMV: It’s tucked behind all the construction and looks deserted. But a friend warns: “It’s actually hard to figure out how to drive to it with Idlewild closed there but worth the effort!”
    • Brookshire (N.C. 16) office: “I hate to have you publish the secret and ruin it, but we have found the one on Brookshire the BEST and others say that too.”
    • East Charlotte’s Executive Circle, off Albemarle: “Renewed my license in 8 minutes at the one on Executive Circle.”

(3) Avoid these offices. According to the DMV, these are their “high-volume” offices:

  • East Charlotte, 6635 Executive Circle, (Yes, this is on both lists. That’s the DMV for you)
  • South Charlotte, 201H West Arrowood Road
  • North Charlotte, 8446 N. Tryon Road
  • Mooresville, 533 Patterson Ave., Suite 100

Well…this is going to be a test of my patience and my bladder…..

A photo posted by Kelly Spaulding (@kellyspaulding) on Dec 29, 2014 at 9:03am PST

(4) Planning matters

  • Go either first thing in the morning, like before the doors open, or early afternoon.
  • Don’t go at lunch
  • Don’t go on a Monday; Tuesdays or Wednesdays are better
  • Go when it’s raining
  • Make an appointment.
  • Call the office in advance and be clear on what paperwork you need to bring. You can also try to find that info on

(5) Don’t even go! You can actually get quite a bit done online, including:

  • Renewing or registering license plates
  • Getting a duplicate registration card or drivers license
  • Scoring personalized plates
  • Requesting your driving record

Photo: Charlotte Observer