Is the Washington DMV an Example of Republican Small Government?

In Washington State, the DMV handles drivers licenses and permits. Vehicle registration is taken care of by independent shops at most malls. Emissions tests are done at a local state-run testing center. I’ve had to go to all three places and was always amazed that I never needed an appointment. Nothing took more than 10 minutes. The setup was so efficient. It was heart-warming.

In contrast, I grew up in California. In California, the DMV handles everything (but emissions tests) and it’s a nightmare. The lines are so long, even with an appointment, one can easily get stuck waiting half a day. Once, I spent an entire Saturday from 10AM to 8PM, slouched in a plastic chair, waiting for my ticket to come up so I could drop off a one-page form for renewing my license. Perhaps, most telling, the DMVs in California have bullet-proof glass to protect the DMV workers from being MURDERED.

I much prefer the way the Washington’s DMV operates.

My question is: is Washington’s DMV an example of what Republicans mean by smaller government?

Living in California, West L.A. to be exact, I have never had a problem doing DMV business if I had an appointment. The last time I had to renew my license, I arrived about 20 minutes early for my appointment, and was out of there before I was even supposed to be there in the first place.

I have never seen a DMV office with bulletproof windows.

Since the Democrats control the Washington house, senate, and governorship, that seems unlikely. If you want examples of what the Republicans mean by small government, it would be better to look at what they do in places where they’re in power.

The pertinent question is who created the system, not who is in power now or even was in power when it was created (since it may have come from minority legislation).

(I have no idea who made the system)

South Central L.A. here - never had much of a problem moving through the DMV efficiently with an appointment, but without one it can certainly be a pretty horrific wait.

And many places around here (banks, Post Office, pizza places) have bulletproof glass, but I don’t recall the employees at the DMV being behind any.

I too, am a resident of WA. state, but my observations are a bit different. It’s mostly true that the emissions checks are often, but not always, speedy, but I question the cost/benefit ratio of inspecting vehicles every two years to begin with and, possibly, even why they aren’t busier. Are we getting our moneys worth?
You mention the contract offices, where you can renew your registration, buy hunting/fishing licenses, etc. These places charge a fee for each transaction on top of the state fees. In my county we have a DMV office located in the county seat, then there is a much larger DMV office about ten miles east which also staffed and owned by the state, however, much to my surprise, I was charged the extra contract fee when I renewed my registration. When I questioned this I was informed that the only way to avoid the fee was to go to the “main” office in the county seat?
You may be pleased at not having to wait, but I think we’re paying for a lot of bureaucracy that we don’t need.

How recent is your experience with the California DMV? It sounds like you’re comparing the present-day Washington State DMV with the one in California some time ago.

I don’t know, here people in north california have noticed that the DMV doesn’t actually check if you have an appointment. There’s simply two lines “Appointment” and “Non-appointment” and they all get fed the same tickets from the same pool. Ideally only a few make appointments so the appointment line is shorter so they get their ticket faster, however most people at my local DMV figured out that they don’t check the lines are about equal in length.

I don’t know, his experience (except for the bullet-proof glass, I haven’t seen that yet) resonates with my experience with the California DMV that’s actively ongoing :slight_smile:

Well if the controlling Democrats are ideologically opposed to the current system it’s certainly within their power to change it.

I agree though, what’s important is the history. If the current system was put in place as part of a past Republican “small government” initiative then it would certainly be an example.

In Missouri we have a system of state offices supplanted by privately run fee offices. Actual ownership of the private offices seems to change every time a governor is elected from a different party.

You can call it “small government” if you want, but I think the proper term is “big patronage.”

It’s also worthwhile to note that we do not know whether parties will actually attempt to implement their own rhetoric to any degree if given power. To answer the OP in a slightly different way, yes, the washington DMV partially aligns itself with the ideological approach to a small government occasionally promoted by the Republican Party.

I don’t know if there is a GQ type answer to this so I’ll have to just go with my experience. Here in NJ the Republican Whitman administration privatized the DMV several years ago. I was skeptical at the time but I think it works a 1000% better now.

I moved two years ago to Seattle. So it was a fairly recent experience.

About the bullet-proof glass in California DMVs, it seems obvious now that it’s not that way in the whole state, or even southern california. The Pasadena DMV was the one I was most familiar with and it had a maze of bulletproof glass and a sign that said something like, “threatening a DMV employee is a crime.”

It’s possible they just had a bad incident and put up glass. At the time, hungry and cranky, I assumed it was standard practice and for good reason.

Interesting stuff. There’s certainly nothing wrong with government offices that make it easy for citizens to comply with their requirements.

Possibly. I think the rates I paid to register my cars (one transfered from California and sold, one totaled, one bought) didn’t seem unusual compared to what I paid back in California. Certainly the emissions test was much cheaper ($15 vs $30 - $50)

I don’t know about your recent experience with Emmisions testing but mine is that they don’t actually test any emmisions on newer vehicles. I have a 96 VW and the plug their computer into mine and will say you pass or you fail based on what the car’s onboard computer says. I failed one based on computer code that ammounted to “lower than expected Idle” and had to get it serviced by a state authorized shop and have the car retested.

I think we should get what we pay for, a true emmisions test!

Washingtonianiteian here…

The DMV/licensing process here is a bit of a mixed bag. The state government run driver license offices have improved greatly over the last 10 years or so. What used to be an antiquated ordeal (huge wait in line, wait again for your temporary to be printed, wait several more weeks to get your bad photo in the mail) has been quick and easy the last few times I’ve been. Service has been cheerful and prompt.

Insta-licenses with photos show up in the mail within a week.

The privately run vehicle license places are a mixed bag, however. They are all almost uniformly run as entrenched mom 'n pop family outfits, with the enviable position of having a government-granted fixed customer base. Many have turned into the classic stereotypes of scowling beaurocrats, gleefully cranky knowing that their customer base is shackled into supporting their business and putting their grandkids through college regardless of how poor their customer service becomes.

My last bad experience involved standing in a 45 minute line, only to be told at the counter that they only accept cash, and was happily pointed at their own office cash machine (the only one within 3 blocks) with a $4.50 service fee at the machine. And then to the back of the line again. The guy right after me followed me to the cash machine as well, only to have the misfortune of having me get the last $40 from the machine before it went out of service.

It took me some time, but I did find a nearby outfit that wasn’t run by complete soup nazis and accepted debit/credit cards, and has often waived late fees for my tabs if I give a nice smile in return. That place has charming people, short lines, and I’m never revealing the location to anyone :slight_smile:

When I got a CA ID somewhere around 1999, I was in and out of the DMV in seven minutes. When I renewed my license & changed my address a month ago (in CA), I was in and out in about twenty.

I’ll echo that. Every 2 years is excessive for newer cars, and all they do with mine is get an engine code reading, no emission test at all. It’s relatively cheap, but still a bit of a non-productive hassle.

They did do a full body cavity strip search of my gas cap, however. They are extremely picky about “compliant” gas caps, whatever those are. Mine is the manufacturer’s cap that I’ve always had, but the tech spent more time inspecting the cap than he did on the other tasks combined.