(WGHP) — North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle offices all over the state are dealing with staffing shortages and making sure they provide adequate service to their communities.
In Eden, the license plate office is closing Thursday at 5 p.m., and it could be shut down for as long as several months, and Lexington’s license plate office closes Friday as well with the same issue.
Eden is a town of around 15,000 people, and Lexington is closer to 20,000. In both cases, the contractor who ran these offices has chosen to retire or leave the business, forcing them to close until a new one is approved by the state.
“There are some challenges in rural areas for a variety of reasons, whether it’s finding someone to operate the office or finding staff,” said Marty Homan, communications director for the NCDOT DMV.
In Eden, the license plate office is right on their main street, providing easy access for people in town.
Deborah Foddrell, a veteran teacher, says for people in small towns, easy access to DMV services is critical.
With the Eden license plate agency closed until a new contractor is approved, people will have to drive almost 20 to 30 minutes to the nearest location. It’s the same for Lexington.
“It can be a challenge. We don’t have an office in every county, but most counties do,” Homan said.
Some folks are comfortable navigating options on the DMV’s website without a nearby office.
“It’s less convenient because I live a little less than a mile away, but I can do it online,” said Bryan Grill, a local business owner in Eden.
Others say they feel much more comfortable going into an office in the town they’ve lived in all their life where they can ask questions.
“I like it to be here. It’s a whole lot more convenient,” said Shelby Smith, who visited the license plate office Wednesday.
State DMV officials say they constantly evaluate staffing concerns, locations and wait times.
“We have more of a challenge with lines and wait times at our driver’s license offices than our LPAs. These license plate agencies are typically a quicker transaction,” Homan said.
While Eden has an applicant to make sure the license plate agency stays in place, local business owner Mike Carpino, Lexington’s application period goes through October, and in the event the new contractor chooses a new location, it takes three months to get it ready to reopen since they require special wiring and security protocols.