Kearny vehicle owners fuming over delays in getting their paperwork handled or getting shuffled from one service agency to another can expect some relief soon.
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is sending a mobile unit to the town Oct. 5. It will be stationed in front of Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A recent posting on the town’s website alerted residents to “Agency-on-Wheels” program and requested interested persons to register in advance for appointments.
Evidently, demand for the service was so intense that the 65 available slots were gobbled up in “less than a day,” according to Mayor Alberto Santos. He said he didn’t know how many, ultimately, didn’t make the cutoff.
“We are working on getting a second mobile unit and/or an additional date,” Santos posted.
In a phone interview, the mayor said that, initially, there were hopes for two mobile units Oct. 5 but that expectation was dashed after the potential second unit was damaged by Hurricane Ida and is still awaiting repair.
Now he’s anticipating a return of a mobile unit sometime in November.
Santos said that the legislative office of Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, representative of the 32nd legislative district, “made me aware of the (mobile unit) program” and he reached out to the MVC to arrange for a visit to Kearny.
As soon as the visit was confirmed by the MVC, the town posted public notices on the municipal website and social media, the mayor said. The fact that people speedily registered for the program “shows there’s definitely a need for it,” he noted.
“Even when you go (to a motor vehicles agency) in person, it can be time-consuming and when you don’t have to drive (to an out-of-town location) it’s less stressful,” he added.
Town resident Jane Doffont-Carey offered an example of just how frustrating an in-person visit can be in a recent Facebook posting in which she related a visit to a Newark-based MVC station she and her 17-year-old son made in June to get him a driver’s permit.
“We had an appointment,” Doffont-Carey said. “We waited three hours on line. At 4:30 (p.m.) there were still many people waiting for their scheduled appointment. An announcement was made that they were closing and everyone needed to go online and re-schedule. We have been trying since to schedule another appointment. For the past two months, each time I go online to reschedule, it always states: ‘“no appointments available.”’ That’s for the entire state. … This is so frustrating. I hope we can get another date with the mobile unit.”
Another resident hoping to visit the mobile unit is Third Ward Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle. “I have plates to retire,” Doyle said. “I happened to have found them in my trunk. They’re about a year old. I think the mobile unit is going to do a lot of good.”
William Connolly The NJMVC spokesman said , the agency has two Mobile Units that were launched in 2018.
In the first few months of the program, the Mobile Units were used to supplement agencies that were overburdened. For example, while the South Plainfield agency was closed, one Mobile Unit was committed full-time to the nearby Edison agency.
In the fall of 2018, we began deploying the Mobile Units to community events and locations. We have not tracked the total number of towns or locations they have visited, but we aim to serve as many different communities across the state as possible and rarely visit the same location multiple times in a year.
One of our two Mobile Units is currently out of service due to a mechanical problem, which is requiring extensive repairs. As a result, some scheduled Mobile Unit visits have had to be canceled, while others have been scaled back to be serviced by a single Unit.
The NJMVC regrets any inconvenience. We always work to reschedule canceled visits, and try to fulfill as many requests from towns and community organizations as possible, with an eye on serving the entire Garden State. Kearny’s request for a return visit is still pending.
Those residents who’ve successfully registered for the unit can:
• Turn in expired license plates.
• Renew driver licenses (REAL ID is available if the license expires within six months), obtain a duplicate license, change their name and address on their license, add a boat endorsement, add a veteran designation, register to vote and/or make organ donation selections.
• Obtain veteran non-driver IDs.
• Renew their registrations or secure a duplicate registration card for their vehicle.
• Receive placards for disability, Purple Heart or Disabled Veteran
• Apply for an examination permit to take a written (law/knowledge) test. However, the written test is not available in mobile units.
• A limited number of customers can get REAL ID if their license or ID card is expiring within the next six months. Customers who have scheduled appointments for REAL IDs must arrive no later than noon on the day of their appointment.
Mobile unit visitors will need to present six points of ID (as outlined on the NJMVC website, https://nj.gov/mvc/) and their social security card. In place of a social security card, they can present a W2 form from the 2020 tax year, a current pay stub (number cannot be redacted) or a 1099 form.
The mobile unit will be wheelchair-accessible.
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Ron Leir | For The Observer
Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.
He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.
He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York