As frustration at DMV mounts, county considers opening facilities
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the correct DMV email address.
BRECKENRIDGE — Summit County officials are considering opening county offices in mid-July in response to mounting frustration and confusion among Department of Motor Vehicle customers.
While nearly every business in Summit County has been able to open in a limited capacity, the county’s DMV office has remained closed along with all other county buildings since March 25.
The office, which is located in the clerk and recorder’s building in Breckenridge, provides registration, titles and license plates for new residents and vehicle owners. Because it is managed by the state and not the county, the Driver’s License Office in Frisco has been open for appointments since May 11.
At Tuesday’s joint Board of Health and Board of County Commissioners meeting, officials discussed opening in July. County Manager Scott Vargo said county facilities should open because most other businesses have opened.
“We have, in most cases, the capability to (open) safely and effectively ourselves, coupling that with still some remote work as well as appointment-type arrangements where that makes sense as well,” he said.
Since the DMV closed, its services have been provided through mail and email. While the county updated information about the process on its website, County Clerk Kathleen Neel said many people remain confused on where to start.
“I don’t know what it is, but everyone has seemed to have bought new cars all of a sudden and we’re not fully staffed,” she said. “It has been a struggle but the staff is doing a great job.”
While the office is closed, residents should first email email@example.com with information about what they need, Neel said. From there, customers will get advice on the best way to access the DMV’s services.
Silverthorne resident Shelbi Pereira said she was initially confused when she went to register her new car in early June. She decided to post on the One Man’s Junk Summit County Facebook page, where she got the advice to email the clerk’s office.
Pereira said the process went smoothly once she emailed. She got a response within 24 hours and was able to successfully register her vehicle.
“That was a little bit different than what I was expecting just based on other people’s responses,” she said. “Some people said that they were able to go to the DMV and pick up their plates, pay for their registration fees over the phone … so my experience may have been just a little different than everyone else’s.”
Pereira said it doesn’t make sense for the DMV to be closed for as long as it has.
“If I can get my hair cut and dyed, I don’t understand why the DMV can’t be open,” she said.
While the opening county facilities would provide more access to the DMV, it would mean a lot more foot traffic going in and out of the county’s buildings.
“I think part of the concern was that we might be, in some departments — motor v being a good example — overrun with people and have a difficult time tracking the number of folks in the space or keeping the appropriate social distance,” Vargo said at the meeting.
However, the concerns about foot traffic may be evidence of the need for the county to be open, Vargo said.
“If there are that many people that need to do service with motor v or the clerk or whatever else for that matter, perhaps we should be more focused on getting reopened because those folks need to be able to conduct business,” he said.
County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she shares concern that the office would be overrun with people if it were to open, but as a person who needed to register her car, the process was “clunky” and “complicated.”
“I can understand the frustration of people that just want to go in person and do that,” she said at the meeting. “But I lean towards motor v needing to be on an appointment basis for the beginning, or we’re going to have to have some sort of staff to manage the lines of the people.”
When the office eventually opens, Neel imagines it will look much like other businesses, with tape marking 6-foot distances and everyone wearing masks. The office will continue to provide as many services as possible remotely to prevent people from coming in contact with each other, she said.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the fall and the winter,” she said. “The re-education part is a little hard to get across, but we’re doing the best we can taking care of as many folks as we can.”
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