People don’t want to go the DMV. The DMV is trying to make it so you don’t have to.

The DMV is rolling out a new mobile appointment system, offering online written driving tests and preparing to close its Henderson location, lawmakers were told last week. 

DMV officials updated the legislative Interim Growth and Infrastructure Committee on new programs that are being implemented to help direct people toward online services and alleviate long wait times from in-person visits. 

Tonya Laney, director of the DMV, said after last year’s state budget allowed for cost-of-living adjustment raises and longevity pay to be restored, the agency has been able to not only retain current staff but also attract new employees to address vacancy rates. 

The field services divisions, one of the largest divisions within the DMV, currently has only a 4% vacancy rate. The central services division reduced its vacancy to 16%. 

On average, appointments are available 10 days out. 

The DMV is still working to expand efforts that allow customers to complete tasks, whether it’s taking written driving tests or taking care of long-expired registration, all online rather than coming in person. 

“We are trying to encourage people to think online first,” said Sean Sever, a legislative liaison with the DMV.

The DMV began offering written drivers tests online in October.

Since then, Sever said that “more than 33,000 tests have been taken online preventing that many visits to our offices, which equals 6,000 a month and 300 a day not coming into our offices.”

Assemblyman Howard Watts asked for updates on the wait times for people who would prefer to come into an office to take the test. 

Laney said she would get the information but added that “the last time we checked, we were about 60 days out on average for in-person drive tests.”

The DMV is also looking to contract third party vendors to conduct its road driving exams as another way to reduce the number of people coming into offices. Third party instructors would need to be trained and certified by the DMV.

Department officials are still working on implementing a pilot program later this year. 

“We have nine Southern Nevada schools interested and one in the north interested in this pilot program,” Sever said. 

Earlier this year, offices in Reno and Fallon piloted a program called “WaitWell” that allows customers to check in for an appointment with their phones. 

The program is expected to expand to the remaining DMV offices statewide by the end of April.

“Customers can check in on their mobile devices, get text message reminders and real wait time estimates and customers can provide feedback on their experience,” Sever said.

For years, the DMV has directed customers to online resources and kiosks for simple tasks like renewing registration prior to it expiring. 

“We have expanded the time period of the cancellation or suspension of the registration,” Laney said. “You can go online up to 18 months after the expiration of your registration to reinstate.”

Laney didn’t say when that expansion went into effect.

New car owners who purchase vehicles at a Nevada dealership can currently register online. That doesn’t apply for private car sales.  

“Do we see a future where folks will be able to register online after a private sale?” asked state Sen. Dallas Harris.

Laney said during the pandemic, registering cars from private sales was “one of the biggest roadblocks for customers accessing the DMV.”

Once the DMV gets through rolling out other initiatives, she said it plans on addressing barriers to registering private sales online.   

Department officials also took questions on future DMV changes, including concerns around the DMV’s Henderson location closing in 2026. 

A new, larger location is expected to open near Silverado Ranch.

“We are legislatively kept under a cap and we simply cannot afford to have the new facility in addition to the Henderson facility,” Laney said. “We’ve simply outgrown the Henderson facility. 

Laney said they plan on partnering with Triple AAA’s Henderson office to offer in person assistance for people who want to complete online forms. 

But the hope, again, is more people will conduct future business online.