Silvo Hidalgo camped out overnight to get the second spot at the Motor Vehicles Commission in Lodi. He joined hundreds of other people who braved the line that wrapped around the building. Hidalgo secured a spot with his best friend, who was first in line.
He came to change his license despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s plea for people to complete some license transactions online. He said he had no choice but to come in person because he couldn’t do it on the Motor Vehicle Commission website.
“I have like 27 hours just waiting to get my license changed, that’s crazy. I rather do it online and even wait a month or two and not deal with this line,” he said.
Officers from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office said traffic backed up so much that they were forced to turn people away at around 5 a.m.
Bloomfield resident Osvaldo Ramos was waiting to receive his commercial driver’s license. Arriving at around 3:30 a.m., he secured spot number 60.
Ridgewood Park resident Healy Castillo and Little Ferry resident Michelle Portillo secured spots in the 120s after waiting in line since 1 a.m. The two were waiting to get their licenses.
“We were going to come at 10 but we were like that’s too early. But then we decided 1:30 was the time, but then one of our friends called us at 12 saying that the line was already started so we came at like one-ish,” Portillo said.
With a long line and overcrowding, another major concern was social distancing, which got harder to maintain as people got closer to the entrance.
“It’s hard because you start seeing the line move and then all of a sudden you think you’re closer to the door and then you realize how close you are to everybody. So you just have to keep reminding yourself that that’s an issue. Now, it’s hot with the masks. It’s a lot,” said Little Ferry resident Yvonne Losino.
Losino came with her daughter and best friend to get their licenses. She said they secured spots 97 and 98 after waiting in line since 12 a.m.
“I was anticipating that she would get her license yesterday and then I heard the craziness. At first I was like ‘we can just wait until it passes,’ but then again they’ve been waiting because of the whole situation so I said ‘We’ll give it a shot,’” she said.
Last but not least, a man who only wanted to be identified as Austin secured the last spot, number 205. He praised officers for remaining polite and clear with those waiting in line.
“If someone tells you what’s going on, which they just did, that helps a lot. I mean, I can go home now, start some laundry, come back, do what I got to do instead of just standing here the whole time,” he said. “Just be peaceful, be calm. It’s not going to help being angry.”
In an effort to ease long lines, Motor Vehicle Commission agencies will remain open six days a week throughout July starting on July 13. The commission will be exempt from any worker furloughs to make sure it has enough staff. Expiration dates for licenses, permits and nondriver IDs have automatically been extended.