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Labor shortage worsens lines at Medford DMV

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Customers wait in line at the Medford DMV office at the Medford Center Wednesday morning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCustomers wait in line for the Medford DMV office at the Medford Center Wednesday morning.
DMV urges customers to use internet services

Notoriously long lines at the DMV are now longer as the agency struggles with the same labor shortage that has hit industries from restaurants to nursing homes in the Rogue Valley and across the nation.

The Medford DMV office is down to half of its usual staffing, the Oregon Department of Transportation Department of Motor Vehicles announced this week.

“We are down to six or seven employees available on most days at the Medford office, when the normal level is about 14,” DMV Administrator Amy Joyce said. “We have multiple job openings advertised for that office, and very few people are applying.”

On some mornings when the Medford DMV office opens, a line of nearly 100 people forms.

The agency said the labor shortage is not unique to the Medford DMV office.

The DMV encourages customers to access as many services as they can online to avoid the long lines.

Before going to the DMV office, check DMV2U.Oregon.gov to see whether what you need is online. Two of the most common chores — renewing your driver’s license or vehicle tags — can be done online. More than two dozen services are now available online, the agency said.

Appointments aren’t needed for any DMV services except for driving tests, but customers should expect long lines if they do go to the Medford office in person, the agency said.

On some days, the Medford office hasn’t been able to serve all the customers who visit each day by the time it closes at 5 p.m., the agency said.

The DMV said driving test appointments fill up fast, especially as teen drivers get their first licenses. Consider taking a driving test from an approved Oregon testing company. It costs more, but people can usually get a driving test appointment sooner, the agency said.

Locally, contact Southern Oregon Driver Education, Inc. at 541-499-0132 or visit southernoregondrivered.com for information and to make a driving test appointment.

In the Rogue Valley, the company tests drivers at locations in Central Point and Grants Pass.

One major wrinkle in DMV’s efforts to get people to renew their licenses online is a federal identification requirement that goes into effect in May 2023 for anyone who wants to fly by air in the United States. The Transportation Security Administration will no longer accept a standard Oregon driver’s license or ID card to pass through airport security checkpoints.

People must apply in person at a DMV office and bring required documents to prove their identity in order to get the new Real ID option with their driver’s license. To see the documentation requirements, visit Oregon.gov/RealID.

The Oregon DMV is urging people to beat the rush in 2023 and get their Real ID as soon as they can if they plan to travel by air.

TSA agents at airports will accept passports as identification in place of a Real ID. If you have a passport, check the expiration date to see how long it will remain valid. If you were 16 or older when the passport was issued, the passport is good for 10 years. Passports issued to younger people expire after five years, according to the U.S. State Department.

Meanwhile, in a bid to recruit workers, the Medford DMV is touting its full-time pay, vacation days, comprehensive health insurance and retirement benefits.

“We can only ask for your patience as we try to fill those positions and train the new hires,” Joyce said. “So it’s worth saying now that if you need a job or know someone in the Medford area who does, please consider applying or recommending it to a friend.”

Customers suffered through office closures and the cancellation of driving tests at Oregon DMV offices during the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by open offices with restrictions and long lines. The national labor shortage is the latest development to strain the DMV and cause headaches for customers.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.