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California to reopen 25 DMV field offices on Friday after they were shut down amid coronavirus

California is opening 25 DMV field offices on Friday but with social distancing rules to avoid the kind of lines seen at the South Los Angeles office in 2018.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Six weeks after closing field offices to the public because of the coronavirus, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will reopen 25 locations to people with appointments on Friday, including offices in Los Angeles, Inglewood, Glendale and Santa Ana.

The agency, which closed all 170 field offices to the public on March 27, will open others in the coming weeks in phases and will require customers to wear face coverings and remain six feet apart in line, officials announced Thursday.

The DMV will also limit the number of people allowed inside the buildings at any given time and will send text messages to people waiting outside to let them know when they can enter and be served. As a result, the DMV is warning of extended wait times.

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“The health and safety of our customers is our priority. The DMV team members have face coverings, face shields and gloves,” said DMV Director Steve Gordon. “We look forward to serving our customers with these precautions in place.”

Field offices were chosen based on location, size, service capacity and the ability to offer enhanced service to commercial driver license customers, and will be open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, except on Wednesdays when they open at 9 am.

The reopened offices will still not provide behind-the-wheel driving tests because of concern about the spread of coronavirus with DMV employees being in proximity to customers in cars.

Appointments are being limited to those who require in-person transactions, including reinstating suspended driver licenses, paying fees for cars impounded for lack of registration, applying for a disabled person parking placard and processing commercial driver‘s licenses, and certificates for ambulance drivers and firefighters.

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The inability to process a truck driver’s license has been a financial hardship for drivers like Rod Moore, who is losing income because he lacks a certificate to haul fuel for Pacific Gas & Electric.

“It’s well overdue that they reopen,” the Redding resident said. “I could have been earning money if they had opened sooner.”

These are some of the unusual new scenes across the Southland during the coronavirus outbreak.

The action is too little, too late, said state Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), who added that CalFire drivers are still having difficulty getting essential tests.

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“This isn’t near good enough,” Patterson said. “It’s one thing to open. It’s another to treat Californians like customers instead of nuisances.”

DMV officials urge people to use online services for transactions such as renewing driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations.

Other field offices opening Friday include those in Arleta, Fullerton, Fontana, Lancaster, Montebello, Palm Desert, San Marcos and San Diego.

In addition, the DMV will offer limited services for business-related transactions at 10 Industry Business Centers, including one in Covina.


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