Governor celebrates opening of new-style DMV office

Lekeisha Williams was stunned when she entered the new two-story N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles building on Mount Holly-Huntersville Road on Thursday.

Williams, 22, recently moved to Charlotte’s University City area and expected to have a dismal time getting her North Carolina driver’s license.

“I’m from New York,” Williams said. “It’s way more complicated and way more crowded there. Here, it literally took me three minutes to get my driver’s license permit, and the technology is way better. In New York, it’s still paper and pencils. Here, it’s computers.”

As Gov. Pat McCrory said while touring the building on Thursday, “This is not our mom’s and dad’s DMV anymore.”

DMV touts the $6.7 million building as its “modern, state-of-the-art flagship office” that brings all DMV services under one roof and features self-service kiosks to cut wait times.

Drivers take their written exams on computers and can retrieve, via computer, any insurance or other document they may have forgotten to bring with them.

The building, which opened on April 7, includes driver’s-license, vehicle-registration and administrative-hearing areas.

“It’s one-stop shopping,” McCrory said. “That’s exactly what we wanted.”

By month’s end, Troop H of the State Highway Patrol also will move into the building from North Tryon Street in Charlotte. The second floor of the new building houses a License and Theft Bureau lab for detecting fake IDs and titles, the only such lab in the state outside of Raleigh.

McCrory said his goal is for DMV offices statewide to resemble the Huntersville office, which also is one of 11 statewide with expanded weekday hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

DMV also soon plans to offer kiosks in grocery stores and malls as part of the governor’s push for more customer service.

McCrory also announced that new state residents with valid out-of-state licenses won’t have to take the written test to get their North Carolina licenses.

Tony Tata, state secretary of transportation, said the DMV opened the Huntersville office without a budget increase. He said opening similar offices statewide would likely require an increase.

Several years before he was elected governor, McCrory said he had to wait an hour just to get inside a DMV office for service because it was so crowded. Once inside, it took another 45 to 50 minutes to get to a desk, he said. “And I wondered, is this the best there is?” McCrory said.

N.C. DMV offices looked the same as when he was 16 getting his driver’s permit in Jamestown, he said. “That’s not the North Carolina we want to show off to the rest of the nation or the kind of service for our customers,” he said.