OMV reinstatement nightmare follows woman for months; state expanding call center
BATON ROUGE - Several people have contacted 2 On Your Side this year frustrated because they cannot get through to the Office of Motor Vehicles.
Latrice Johnson is in quite a pickle. When she calls the OMV to get her license reinstated, no one answers the phone. Johnson says she has been calling the number for months and has not been able to get through. All the while, she's been driving with a suspended license.
Thursday evening, that headache caught up with her when she was ticketed for speeding.
"When he did stop me I said, 'oh lord, I knew my license was suspended,'" Johnson said.
Make no mistake — Johnson admits to her wrongdoing, but she also knows that she has been trying to get her situation sorted out for months.
"I have friends that are having this same issue," she said.
Her license was suspended after defaulting on a payment plan for a prior speeding ticket.
"I've been unable to get back on the payment plan because I've been calling OMV, and there's no answer," she said.
Johnson called again Friday morning. Each time she calls, the recording says, "Due to high call volume, we cannot take your call at this time." It instructs to call back later, and then it hangs up.
Since she has been unable to get through by phone, Johnson says she has been in-person to several OMV locations. Each time, she is turned away and told to call the number.
"I was instructed by the state trooper there that I have to just keep calling," she said.
Johnson is far from the only one having trouble getting through to the OMV. The number services the entire state, and the OMV knows there is no option to wait when the line is full.
"The officers should be more lenient, should not take your plate and embarrass you like that because it's not our fault that motor vehicles is this behind," Johnson said.
The OMV says changes are coming. The budget approved 20 new positions for the call center, and hiring has started. It will take four to six months to get new hires trained. There are currently 50 to 60 employees that work the reinstatement portion of the call center each day. The OMV is also exploring a call-back option, so the phone doesn't hang up when the line is full.
Time is of the essence for Johnson, who, according to the sticker on her car, has about a week to get her paperwork straight.
"I have 10 days to rectify this. If I don't rectify this, and I get stopped again, then I'm in jeopardy of getting my vehicle towed," she said.
Johnson will continue calling the number and hopes someone will answer so she can get her license reinstated and her plate back.
The OMV reinstatement call center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. by calling (225) 925-6146. On average, OMV staff answers 1,500 reinstatement calls each day. Reinstatement services are also processed by mail, at some Public Tag Agents and by selecting the “Contact Us” tab on the website, www.expresslane.org. Additionally, OMV staff members call customers who want to enter installment agreements.
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