Good Question: Why doesn’t New York State run all DMV locations?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y.(WHEC)— Saving spots at the DMV has been an issue for people around Rochester looking to take care of certain services temporarily put on hold last year.

This goes back to the start of the pandemic when DMV’s shut down. They’ve been slowly catching up to the backlog. Here in Monroe County, they also had to limit appointments during the winter holidays due to staffing levels. County Clerk Jamie Romeo says our local branches handle about 675 appointments a day.

A viewer named John asked News10NBC’s Brennan Somers: Why is it that you cannot schedule an appointment in a Monroe County DMV for 2 months or more while Livingston County and Wayne County have appointment slots open next week but will not service residents outside of their respective counties? Is the DMV not a state agency?

Here’s the answer. For the most part, in 51 out of 62 counties, your county clerk runs the DMV. State law dictates that.

But why?

Somers reached out to members of the NYS Association of Counties. Members say this goes back to the 1920s, as car use and buying expanded,they needed local offices to meet demand. Nearly all clerks got the authority as agents of the state to handle transactions through their own motor vehicle offices. The separate, state-run DMV as we know it today didn’t exist until the 1960s.

Currently, that system manages branches for 11 counties (most are downstate). For what it’s worth, NYS DMV branches and those in Monroe County will serve New Yorkers no matter where you’re from.

It’s just other counties may still keep the residency requirement for now during the pandemic.


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