DMV reopens for reservation-only service

DMV reopens for reservation-only service

WOONSOCKET – The Pond Street location of the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles will reopen today, Thursday, July 13, for reservation-only service, a move DMV officials say marks a gradual return to business as usual following a conversion to a new computer system.

The city office is expected to process at least 120 transactions on Thursday, a number DMV spokeman Paul Grimaldi says could increase if things go smoothly.

“We will open up more if we think things are going well,” Grimaldi said.

Reservations for transactions including vehicle registration and license renewal are being accepted now and can be made at www.dmv.ri.gov . All of the division’s normal services are available by filling out the form on the DMV website.

Offices across the state will return to full walk-in service on Tuesday, July 18.

The reopening follows a computer update that Grimaldi says has gone well so far.

“The new system has passed all the initiall tests and it operates the way we had planned,” he said. “We have a long way to go, but so far, so good.”

Minor kinks, Grimaldi said, have been worked out quickly, in an upgrade that has gone far better than than the computer system change by the Department of Human Services last year.

“It’s given us confidence every day to increase the number of transactions that we’ve been doing,” he said.

The Woonsocket office has been closed since July 3 to allow time for changes. The state DMV extended the validity periods for licenses, registrations and other credentials due to expire between July 1 and July 31 to Sept. 30 to minimize the disruption.

Grimaldi warned that walk-ins will be turned away during the reservation-only period if the city location does not have room. Those in need of immediate help are advised to make a reservation at the Cranston location.

DMV customers will see no noticable difference in service once the computer change is complete, according to Grimaldi.

“The things that have changed are things in the background and the way we interact with other agencies,” he said. “This was a technology change. Business transformations will come later.”

Grimaldi said that in the future, RIDMV hopes to add more online services and implement programs such as “rolling DMV clerks” with service booths at public events like Waterfire in Providence.

“We have to get through this stabilization period this summer, and then move on from there,” he said.

Visitors should expect longer wait times during the first few weeks following the reopening.

Grimaldi said DMV officials do not yet know when the Woonsocket office will move to its new location in Diamond Hill. The agency signed a lease last year for a long vacant space at the end of Diamond Hill Plaza. The space is believed to have been empty since the 1990s, when the McDonald’s restaurant moved from there to its current standalone location in front of the plaza. The move required a complete interior demolition and renovation of the lot, a process Grimaldi says has taken longer than expected.

“We want to move,” he said. “The holdup is not on our end.”

The spokesman said that while officials have not yet received a hard date, DMV officials believe the move will happen before the end of the year.

A representative from the firm that owns the plaza, Madison Properties, said the company hopes the property will be ready in October.