If there’s one location in Mobile with a reputation of making drivers sit and wait for hours longer than Friday afternoon traffic on I-10 through the tunnel, it’s the DMV on Demetropolis Road.
It’s not unusual to spend more than five hours at the Mobile DMV to get a new driver’s license if you just moved from out-of-state or your license expired, but now people are flocking across the bay to avoid the lines, causing a big problem at the Baldwin County offices.
A sign was plastered to the window that stated, “the sign-in list is full. We can not process anyone that is not on today’s list. We will have a new list tomorrow. We open at 8:00 a.m. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Augustine Quintero, whose family just moved to Daphne from Maryland, was turned away when he showed up to get a new license. “What I was told in there is that there is an overflow from the Mobile office, and that’s why they’re getting swamped at this office,” Quintero said. “So, if there’s a hundred people in line in the morning, and you’re like 101, don’t even bother.”
The office has two employees handling new I.D.’s. They estimate that it takes at least 10 minutes per appointment, so they can issue roughly around 100 each day. When the allotted spots have been filled in, they close the doors to newcomers and tell them to return the next day.
Satellite offices, like the Fairhope location, do not offer online appointment scheduling. Some people said they showed up at 7 a.m. to make sure they were on the list, and several drivers waiting in the lobby said they came from Mobile.
“Yeah I’ve talked to a few and there from over there too,” one driver said as he pointed around the room. Alabama Law Enforcement Agency spokesperson Trooper Jamie Maloy said they can’t hire any additional workers to meet the growing demand because there isn’t room in the current state budget. He worries that if Governor Bentley follows through on his threats to close DMV’s across the state if his budget plan doesn’t pass, then the wait times are only going to get worse.
He said the only offices that will remain open are Mobile, Birmingham, and Montgomery. For now, drivers will just have to show up early, sign-in, and cross their fingers that their name is called before the doors close for the day.