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Woodstock’s DMV: Grade D-

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Woodstock’s DMV: Grade D-

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
May 26, 2007

My visit to the Woodstock Department of Motor Vehicle Services on May 24 was certainly “interesting.”

I thought I had all my license plate renewal papers in order, so I avoided the bottleneck at the front desk where, if they can catch you, they require all arrivals to queue up and wait while one person “directs traffic.” If that person only directed arriving customers to one counter or another, it would be a great service. One that could be avoided by a nice overhead sign and saving $40,000/year for a “greeter”, but a nice service. Nice to know our vehicle tax dollars are at work, or so we hope.

The problem is that the greeter is a bottleneck, because s/he gets into far too much detail with the arriving customer. Result? 6-8 workers at counters have nothing to do and are standing there gossiping, waiting for the next customer. Some management, eh? Where is that manager, anyway? (Stand by; I’m about to tell you.)

I proceeded to the Cashier’s window, where a dozen people stood in line. Whoa! Wait just one minute! But I was about to wait 10-15 minutes... I had just walked past three Title Clerk windows, and there was only one customer being waited on and two title clerks with nothing to do.

So I stepped out of line and went to the nearest title clerk. Politely, I hope, I asked her to let the manager know that there were a dozen people in the cashier’s line and only one window open. I requested that she ask the Manager to open a second Cashier position, and I returned to my line.

Looking back, I saw that she hadn’t moved, so I walked back to the title clerk counter. The center clerk was leaning on her elbows, looking generally bored, so I walked up to her and repeated my request. Imagine my surprise when she said, “I am the manager.”

I returned to the line and shortly a second Cashier’s window was opened. Don’t go away; the story isn’t over yet.

I arrived at the window and presented my paperwork. The cashier asked me to write my driver’s license number on my check. I refused and said it wasn’t needed. She answered that the “banks require” my driver’s license number on my check. I assured her that the banks do NOT require a driver’s license number on checks. What she was trying to explain was, I guess, that a lot of checks are bouncing at the DMV. I pointed out that my driver’s license number was already pre-printed on my vehicle registration form. If my check bounced, they wouldn’t have any trouble finding me.

I told her that every consumer credit agency advises NOT to put your driver’s license number on your check. Then a man behind the counter said that Jesse White’s orders are that driver’s license numbers are to be placed on checks, and they directed my attention to a sign right on the Cashier’s window, just a foot from my face. And sure enough…..there was Jesse White’s directive.

If a motorist presents a bad check at the DMV, then the DMV should revoke his registration and send the sheriff out to collect the license plates from the vehicle – the first time. Pure and simple. And put up a list in the DMV and photographs of plates recovered in this manner. And a list of fines and penalties assessed for handling the bad check process. I don’t want to pay that expense.

When the person comes in with good money, he gets his plates back, and he’d better not drive that vehicle in to pick up his plates.

While I was in the DMV, I overheard a title clerk telling a customer that he had to bring in a check or a money order for a certain transaction and that they would not accept cash. I could not hear the entire conversation, but I did wonder why the DMV would not accept cash. The man was standing right there with a wad of folding money, and the title clerk wouldn’t take it. She was directing him to a Currency Exchange across the road, so that he could get a check.

What kind of dumb rule could require that?



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