CHICAGO (CBS) — Renewing your driver’s license or vehicle registration can be a time-consuming task under normal circumstances, but during the pandemic, it can take hours longer than before, and the Morning Insiders learned social distancing isn’t the only culprit.

Multiple system outages at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office are also to blame for recent delays. CBS 2’s Lauren Victory tracked down the source.

Call it the new rush hour. Destination? The Illinois Secretary of State’s office. ETA? Hours.

“Got water, got food, got the chair; and I just came to camp pretty much,” Illinois driver Kendrick Cowart said as he waited in line outside a driver’s services center this week, dragging a chair along with him as the line slowly moved forward.

David Kowalczyk had comfort in mind, too, as he waited in line.

“I started out way over there, so yeah, it’s moving okay,” he said.

The wait was slow but easy-going, for 2 ½ hours.

That was Gerry Widener’s speed, too, until she hit a bump after she got inside.

“The national database is down, and I go, ‘Again?!’ I yelled, because I’m, like, frustrated,” she said.

The platform that checks driver records in other states had crashed. The same problem happened twice last week, and another time on July 16; delaying the wait during a pandemic, when people are already nervous spending much time next to strangers.

“I just was out of my mind at this point, because people are starting to sit on the floor,” Widener said.

The Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) is out of Illinois’ control. The Secretary of State’s office pointed us to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Their network connects PDPS to every state, but a spokesperson said nothing went wrong on AAMVA’s end. He referred questions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which maintains the PDPS database.

“All of a sudden it just starts to work,” Widener said.

The lines and the system failure cost Widener five hours last week, but that doesn’t seem to faze others.

Late Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the following statement:

“The National Driver Register (NDR), which maintains the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) is aware of intermittent outages to PDPS on 7/29 and 7/30. On both dates, service was restored the same day. NHTSA is performing a root cause analysis as NDR continues to monitor the application closely. NDR has instituted a process to minimize system outages in the event the same issue happens again.”

 

Lauren Victory