Lawmakers to hear from OMV officials after residents claim “nightmare” issues with backed up phone lines

Calls going unanswered. That's how many of you have described your experience trying to reach the Office of Motor Vehicles.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 7:10 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2023 at 9:02 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Calls going unanswered is how many around the state have described their experience trying to reach the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles.

“It was kind of a nightmare,” said Dana Eastridge, a long-time local of Vernon Parish. “You’d hope things would be a lot smoother.”

While Eastridge has lived most of his life in Louisiana, he recently spent some time in Mississippi, where he purchased new insurance for his vehicle. However, when he returned to the state, he was told during a visit to his local OMV that he was flagged for not having insurance. Despite showing proof of monthly payments and his insurance saying he was covered, Eastridge was told since it was purchased in Mississippi, it would not be covered in Louisiana.

On top of that, Eastridge was told he owed a $500 fine that could only be paid through the state office.

“They said we do not recognize that because it was not purchased in Louisiana and that I would still have to pay the $500 fee and would have to go through Baton Rouge to do that,” said Eastridge.

However, for Eastridge, this would only be the beginning of what he called a “nightmare” with the office. He would go on to make multiple attempts to call the state office in Baton Rouge, each time getting the same response that the call lines were full. Eastridge said it took two days and over an hour of being put on hold before he was finally able to reach someone about paying the fine.

“I spent the whole day dialing and redialing,” said Eastridge. “You feel like you are beating your head against a wall.”

While Eastridge eventually had his issue resolved, he has not been the only one with concerns.

“It is probably the top call that comes to my office from citizens needing help,” said District 30 State Representative Chuck Owen.

Owen sits on the Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee. He said that the root of the call center issues is a result of a lack of manpower at the OMV and outdated systems.

“The system should work better to where someone doesn’t have to say, ‘oh my gosh, that’s four hours. I have to call someone else,’” said Representative Owen. “The state has to work better for the people.”

Representative Owen has called on the OMV to respond to those complaints. A hearing is set for Monday, March 20, at the Louisiana State Capitol to discuss not only the phone system with representatives from the OMV but how the office plans to fill over 60 vacancies around the state.

Eastridge plans on sharing his story with the OMV and asking if the local offices can go back to handling any concerns instead of having to be referred to the call center in Baton Rouge.

“They need to have more telephones or more people answering the phones,” said Eastridge. “One of the two or both.”

OMV officials did say the voice message system is active and return calls are consistently made within three business days if the caller provides all of the required info.

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