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Call Kurtis Investigates: DMV Computer Problems Shut Down Offices Again

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Customers were turned around Tuesday morning at DMV offices across the state in the latest of dozens of computer failures this year keeping Californians from registering their cars or renewing their driver’s licenses.

Tuesday’s failure lasted four hours.

Kurtis Ming has been trying for months to get the DMV to answer questions about a string of computer failures.

If you’re one of the people turned away from the DMV’s 169 offices Tuesday, you know the frustration.

“That’s unacceptable to me,” customer William Ansley said.

There were long lines up and down the state after the DMV’s computer system went down.

The DMV initially took to Twitter Tuesday morning claiming the state was experiencing communications issues between AT&T and Verizon, but then the state’s IT department backpedaled.

“It appears this was on the state side,” said Adam Dondro with the California Technology Agency.

The agency admitted the issue had nothing to do with AT&T or Verizon, but instead a DMV router failed.

The Call Kurtis team has tracked the DMV’s own Twitter feed for months. We’ve found they’ve apologized for technical difficulties with their system 10 times since July and 26 since February.

But DMV headquarters has refused to answer our questions about these continuing problems.

Earlier this year, we formally requested information tied to DMV computer failures dating back to 2007. The DMV’s legal department responded with a letter requesting more than $1,500 to do the research.

But Tuesday for the first time we heard someone with the state acknowledge the DMV may need to upgrade its system to make it more reliable.

“If a system goes down every few months for an hour, it’s not worth a million dollars to run two networks through it at all times,” Dondro said. “But perhaps with the Department of Motor Vehicles, that might be a necessity.”

“We once again went searching for answers from the DMV, showing up to headquarters Tuesday afternoon.

We found the DMV’s Mike Marando, who dodged our request for an interview but was about to give an interview to another news organization.That organization invited us to jump in on the interview, but Marando wasn’t having it.

When we pressed him, he excused himself and went upstairs, but we waited and he eventually returned.

“Why when we showed up, you didn’t want to talk with us?” we asked Marando.

“It wasn’t that. We had no idea you were coming,” he said.

That, despite our team specifically asking him for an interview earlier in the day. He discounted it as a simple miscommunication.

We asked him why the entire DMV system statewide could rely upon one router.

“We have several routers, but each one of them has essentially a different mission. These are complex systems,” Marando said.

He said 30 million Californians walk into their offices each year and 11 million use their website.

“Much like the computers in offices and businesses nationwide, computers are very intricate and very technology-driven,” he said. “With innovation comes situations like this, and we’re working through it as feaverishly as possible.”

“Absolutely, they (Californians) should expect a reliable service from us,” Marando added.

But following failure after failure, how many more times will Californians be inconvenienced by DMV meltdowns?

“It’s my whole day, you know?” one frustrated customer said. “It’s DMV for you though.”

The DMV says customers affected by Tuesday’s problems will not face late fees.  They encourage them to call the DMV and they’ll work with you.

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