Can I wait now instead of later?
May 13, 2010 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Oakland, CA DMV: The next available appointment isn't until June 3rd. But years ago I went for an "appointment" and it didn't seem to mean anything - I still waited forever. Can I just show up without an appointment and wait in line forever now instead of on the 3rd? This is for a lost driver's license replacement.
posted by jenmakes to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes. If you are willing to wait forever, you can show up on any day. Often they are furloughed on Fridays.
posted by salvia at 6:09 PM on May 13, 2010

Best answer: However, I've been served "very" quickly at the Claremont DMV with an appointment. There, the wait without an appointment is something like an hour or so. With an appointment, it was more like 20 minutes.
posted by salvia at 6:11 PM on May 13, 2010

Try the Hayward DMV. It's often much less crowded.
posted by purpleclover at 6:11 PM on May 13, 2010

I just went to the DMV with an appointment (3 weeks after I scheduled one) and I still had to take a number and wait with the plebes somehow. So I don't know if that helps much to have one.

If it's an option, the Davis DMV doesn't seem to nearly have the crowds in it that other DMV's I've been to have. I was done with my entire process within 45 minutes :P
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:13 PM on May 13, 2010

Best answer: I go to the Claremont branch all the time, and have never had to wait more than 40 minutes, and as little as 10. I've never had an appointment. I go on Fridays between nine and ten.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:16 PM on May 13, 2010

The Davis DMV is always packed. I lived there for many years and it was always a long wait.

Los Gatos on the other hand is empty almost all the time. It's taken me and my friends/family less than 25 minutes on average to get stuff done here.
posted by special-k at 6:43 PM on May 13, 2010

Yeah, Claremont is not the best. Coliseum does suck, by far. But El Cerrito is better than Claremont, especially without an appointment.
posted by salvia at 6:45 PM on May 13, 2010

Don't go tomorrow. I was there today and there was a sign saying that all CA DMV offices are will be closed on the first three Fridays in May.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:33 PM on May 13, 2010

On the DMV website there is a list of field offices. You can click on each field office, and see the current wait times for appointments and non-appointments (nothing is displayed while the office is closed). There is a difference! I had to go to my local DMV this week, since the next available appointment was weeks away. I monitored the website for most of a day beforehand. Turning up when the office opens seems to be the best strategy. My local office had a wait time of approximately 30 minutes without an appointment, when I arrived 15 minutes after opening. By lunchtime wait times are up to 1.5 hours, and never really dropped below an hour for the rest of the day. Appointment wait times hovered around 20 minutes the whole day.
posted by Joh at 10:18 PM on May 13, 2010

If you can, show up about 10 minutes before they open. I did this at the San Francisco DMV a while back for a lost driver's license without an appointment and was served immediately with no waiting.
posted by zachlipton at 10:47 PM on May 13, 2010

The Davis DMV is always packed. I lived there for many years and it was always a long wait.

Hah, compared to Woodland it was empty. I went there a few weeks ago thinking it'd be faster, but noooooooooooooo, it had three times the people.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:16 PM on May 13, 2010

Another "trick" that used to work (I haven't lived in CA for 15 years so the data could be old) was that AAA had DMV branches in many of their offices. For whatever the minimum AAA membership was ($40 or so at the time), you could get all your DMV stuff done at a location that had much smaller lines.

According to a comment on this page, the workers at the DMV desks in AAA offices don't go on furlough.
posted by DaveP at 3:57 AM on May 14, 2010

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