Dutchess DMV Restricts Services

Will no longer process licenses for Philipstown

The Department of Motor Vehicles office in Beacon will no longer accept or process applications for driver’s licenses, driver’s permits or non-driver ID cards for residents of Philipstown under a new regulation issued by Dutchess County.

As of Dec. 17, Dutchess County DMV offices only serve Dutchess County residents for licenses, permits and IDs, the agency said, although there are no residency restrictions on other transactions. Philipstown residents can use the Putnam County DMV at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster.

In addition, state residents must upgrade their driver’s license, permit or non-driver ID to an enhanced or REAL ID by Oct. 1 to use it as identification on domestic flights or to enter military bases or certain federal buildings. A U.S. passport can be used for ID if a license has not been upgraded.

2 thoughts on “Dutchess DMV Restricts Services

  1. The DMV is an agency of the state of New York, so how is it that a county government has the authority to deny certain state residents the services of a state agency?

    • Under state law, the clerks of 51 counties operate local DMV offices, according to the New York State Association of Counties. The offices operate under a fee-sharing arrangement that has not changed since 1999: the counties keep 12.7 percent of any fees collected and send the rest to the state’s general fund. (The state keeps about 98 percent of fees collected online.)

      The NYSAC noted in a white paper a few years ago that in 2014-15 the state DMV generated $1.3 billion in fees and sent $942 million to the general fund. By contrast, the 51 counties generated $39.7 million. “This growing revenue gap will leave New Yorkers with more complicated DMV transactional needs but fewer places to go because local DMV offices cannot continue to operate under a business model that is seeing steady declines in revenue.”

      A bill passed in the Senate in 2016 by a 59-2 vote (but never taken up in the Assembly) would have increased the county share of fees to 25 percent and the online from 2.5 to 8 percent. A similar Senate bill introduced in 2017 and 2019 would increase the rate to 60 percent on non-driver IDs and 25 percent on everything else.

      That is all context for a letter sent by the Dutchess County Clerk Bradford Kendall, a Republican, on Dec. 16 to Legislator Rebecca Edwards, a Democrat from Poughkeepsie, who had raised concerns about a number of issues related to DMV service.

      “The Dutchess County DMV offers more access to more services for more hours in more locations than any of our neighboring counties and beyond,” Kendall wrote. “With the enactment of the Green Light Law (GLL) [that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses], Orange County has chosen to limit those transactions to its Goshen office. Putnam offers GLL transactions by appointment only. Ulster provides services in Kingston and mobile services in Marlboro on Monday and New Paltz on Thursday for 4.5 hours each. It has been reported that on Monday (Dec. 16] state DMV officials in Peekskill were directing clients to our Beacon office because of the extremely long lines there.”

      “The GLL requires applicants who do not have a valid or expired (for less than 2 years) license to apply for the learner’s permit test. By 10:30 or so, we had 87 applicants for permits waiting on line. Based on our experience, we decided to accept no further permit applications for the day….

      “Based on the current demand and the relative accessibility of Dutchess County testing sites, we have chosen to prioritize Dutchess County residents, regardless of their immigration status. As the initial demand subsides, we will continue to monitor and re-evaluate this option.”

      Edwards also had mentioned wait times at Dutchess DMV offices. Kendall responded:

      “Wait times in Dutchess peaked in mid­-October. We were fortunate to hire six new clerks in September, half of whom are fluent in Spanish. As they received training and became integrated in our work flow, wait times diminished dramatically. Clearly, when New York State decides to make 900,000 residents eligible for licensing, processing and wait times across the state will increase. It is my hope that as initial demand is met and as the REAL ID requirement is met on Oct. 1, 2020, wait times will diminish.”

      Kendall also said the 12.7 percent share of fees “does not fully fund Dutchess County DMV operations” and that in 2018, it cost the county $241,000 to run the DMV than its revenue from fees, not including “in-kind services such as building space, heat and electric in Beacon and Poughkeepsie. In 2019 we expect the deficit to be approximately $250,000.”

      He added that “one of our high-performing clerks processed 17 fee transactions netting the county $100. Her pay rate is $159 per day plus benefits and office overhead. Prior to GLL she averaged 40 transactions per day. The math simply doesn’t work.”

      “As to the need for additional employees, we will continue to evaluate our work flow and physical facilities. We greatly appreciate the 3 additional positions the Legislature approved in 2018. It has been a tremendous help.

      “I hope you find this information helpful in understanding why the restriction was put in place.”