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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Protest over local DMV May 22 cut-backs

Rep. Kennedy, Sen. Algiere, South County legislators concerned about DMV branch closings

Image result for RI DMV offices in south countyWith the news that both the Wakefield and Westerly branch offices of the Division of Motor Vehicles will be closed from May 22 to July 18, Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) and Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly), along with the South County legislative delegation, have written a letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo, asking her to reconsider the length of the office closings.

The closing of branch offices is due to the DMV converting its operations to a new computer system beginning on July 1. While all other branches of the DMV in Rhode Island will be closing at the end of business on June 30, only the South County branches will be closed to all business for the entire two months beginning May 22.

“These closings would cause a severe burden to our constituents in southern Rhode Island who are being denied the same level of services that the rest of the state will receive during the computer conversion,” Representative Kennedy and Senator Algiere wrote. 

“Even though the Narragansett office of AAA will offer free DMV services to non-members, there are still many types of transactions that will not be available to our constituents.”

The South County branches were chosen for a two-month closing based on the fact that they have the lowest traffic count of all the DMV branches.

“We understand the necessity of closures to install the new computer system,” said Representative Kennedy. “But to single out South County when the nearest branches are 45 minutes away  — coupled with the wait times that customers can expect — it seems particularly unfair that the branches in South County should be closed for what amounts to two full months or 1/6th of the entire year.  

"To add insult to injury, the DMV will not be revived in Wakefield until July 18  and July 21 in Westerly, which effectively makes them the last branches to reopen despite being the first to be closed.”

  “While our constituents are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to improve the efficiency of the DMV, it is unfair to ask them to shoulder a greater portion of the burden, simply because of where they live,” said Senator Algiere. 

“We strongly urge the governor to reconsider the length of time these branches will be closed and come up with a more equitable plan.  Where is the shared sacrifice in this plan developed by the State?”

The other signatories on the letter included nearly all the legislators representing South County communities.