STATEWIDE — On Wednesday, Aug. 4, the Virginia Senate passed an amendment to the proposed multi-billion dollar spending package to force the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to reopen for same day service, according to a press release from Sen. J. Chapman Petersen’s office.
The amendment, which passed with bipartisan support, would take effect 30-days after the budget bill is signed into law. Petersen’s amendment is just one of dozens that have been tacked on to the original package which includes federal funding for pandemic relief from the American Rescue Plan Act. The entire bill will need to be approved by the House of Delegates before being signed by the governor.
The DMV closed all of its facilities to walk-in customers at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown in March of 2020. Ever since the department has operated on an appointment only basis.
Sen. Petersen spoke on the amendment he wrote from the Senate floor on Wednesday and addressed assertions from DMV officials and some customers that the appointment system was more efficient.
“I’m not going to debate the efficiency issue,” he said. “I will say in terms of the customer preference, I get complaints all the time about DMV and people not being able to get in.”
Petersen emphasized that it is important for people to be able to renew and and obtain their drivers licenses, despite the fact that COVID-19 cases are on the rise. So to is the concern for the powerful delta variant that has been surging around the country. In the Commonwealth alone, the number of confirmed new cases has been averaging more than 1,000 every day since July 28, according to the Center for Disease Control.
“They can put whatever conditions on that they want. Mandate people wear masks? They can do that,” Petersen said. “Have people make appointments and make that a separate line to make it more efficient? They can do that; but they need to have same-day services.”
When reached for comment on the legislation and whether or not the DMV had any plans in place if it passed, the DMV Public Relations and Media Liaison, Jessica Cowardin, said in an email, “It would be inappropriate for DMV to discuss legislation currently pending before the General Assembly.”