MA RMV Overloaded

January 19th, 2023
My drivers license expires at the end of January, and renewal requires an appointment. On 1/12 when I tried to make one I had a little over two weeks (17d) before expiration. I should have left a larger cushion, but the RMV says you generally need 14d and it averaged 9d in 2021 and 11d in 2022. The earliest appointment at the Boston RMV was 2/23 (42d).

I filled out their contact form asking if I could get an extension, and they replied:

Extensions are only granted during an in person renewal appointment, we cannot offer an extension through email. As a reminder renewal is available up to a full year in advance and up to 2 years after expiration.

This morning I tried going in person right when they opened. Outside they checked whether you had an appointment, and wouldn't let you in for an ID without one:

Me: I tried to renew my license a few weeks in advance and the soonest appointment it would offer me was nearly a month after it expires.

RMV: Sorry, you need an appointment. Try reloading the page to see if there's a cancellation.

Me: I've been doing that, and the earliest it shows me is March.

RMV: That's not possible.

Me: Here's what I see:

RMV: Sorry, still you need an appointment. Try reloading the page every hour to see if there's a cancellation.

When you go to check if there have been any cancellations you're presented with a screen like:

There are 17 RMV locations within an hour drive of my house, and the only way to check for cancellations is to manually click each one. I can't ask it to order locations by "soonest available appointment" or even "closest to my house". Checking all 17 right now, the soonest option is 2/14 (26d) in Taunton. This is 43mi away and would be a 55min drive, except it's after my license expires so it would be a 2hr+ each way on public transit. Everything within an hour on public transit is 3/2 (42d).

This is similar to what WBZ reported in November:

When WBZ checked for appointments online, a "no appointments available" screen popped up for RMV offices in Boston, Attleboro, Lowell, Worcester and all points between. One turned up in Greenfield four weeks out, which would take almost two hours to get to.

I'm not sure what I'll do about my renewal except keep checking back, but if you need an appointment I'd recommend scheduling it well in advance!

EDIT: at the suggestion of commenters I've joined AAA and have an appointment for 1/26.

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