Senior hours start at MVC agencies, but are these the ‘appointments’ they waited for?

Posted Sep 21, 2020

Drivers age 65 and up will finally get special hours promised by a new state law starting Tuesday at Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) agencies designated as vehicle centers.

But the long-awaited appointments might be different than what some senior citizens expected.

MVC officials will offer special hours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for customers age 65 and over and those who are medically unable to wear a mask. They begin on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

MVC officials said in a statement that “no individual appointments are necessary.” Instead, “eligible customers should arrive at the agency no earlier than 2 p.m. so that they can be ticketed for service and not have to stand in line to be served."

The senior hours are only to register and title new and used car purchases, at vehicle centers - which do not perform driver’s license transactions. (License centers perform those services, and can be found here.)

Seniors who emailed NJ Advance Media specifically asked when they could start making appointments and what the procedures were

Senior hours and appointments were part of one of two laws that Gov. Phil Murphy signed on Sept. 10 to shorten lines at agencies that had been closed for four months during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the bills sponsors initially had some concerns.

“We tried to give the MVC some discretion in how to implement the law, but my intention was always for there to be an appointment system established for seniors and others with certain medical conditions," said state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco, R-Morris, one of the bills sponsors. “I’m disappointed this is how the MVC has chosen to interpret the new law, and I’ll reach out to see if they can enact a real appointment system as we envisioned.”

Bucco said it doesn’t make much sense to simply have those people line up at a different time on some other days.

Another sponsor wants to see how the process works out.

“I think the law was flexible to allow different methods of implementation, I’m willing to reserve judgement to see how the first week goes,” said Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson, D-Mercer, one of the bipartisan legislations sponsors. “We will be reaching out to MVC to better understand their implementation of the legislation.”

Almost as important is educating seniors about the increased number of transactions that can be done on the MVC website, so they don’t have to go to an MVC agency, Benson said.

The law also extended the validity of driver’s license photographs to allow drivers under age 65 to renew that document online twice before having to go to an agency for a new photograph. Drivers over 65 are exempt from having to have a new photo taken for a standard license.

It was signed into law along with another bill that doubled the time period to 120 days for new residents to transfer out of state driver’s licenses and registrations.

“It is important to ensure there is enough capacity that seniors aren’t making multiple trips, if the ticketed slots run out at certain locations,” Benson added.

The law said the MVC has to "offer appointments exclusively to "senior citizens or people who can prove they have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face mask. It only covers registering a newly purchased, newly acquired, or transferred motor vehicle.

“This time has been set aside for those customers exclusively,” said William Connolly, an MVC spokesman. “The ticket referred to in the release is for purposes of handling customers in the order in which they arrive and to be called when their turn is up."

MVC agencies reopened on July 7 to long lines and waits measured in multiple hours, due to the backlog. MVC employees have hit a high of processing 285,000 transactions a week.

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-09-22 03:27:18 -0700