New Smithfield DMV location TBD
Published 6:16 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Work is ongoing to open a new Department of Motor Vehicles customer service center in Smithfield.
But exactly where it’ll be located and when the new office will open is still being worked out, officials say.
The existing local DMV office at 912 S. Church St. closed in mid-March due to COVID-19. It has remained closed since and will not reopen in that location, due to the facility’s size and lack of a public restroom, a DMV official confirmed on Dec. 10.
Jessica Cowardin, a DMV spokeswoman, said the facility’s small size prevents adequate social distancing and the lack of public restrooms limit opportunities for hand washing. Both issues are considered essential to stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
“Negotiations continue for a new, larger space in the Town of Smithfield,” Cowardin said. “We will share more information about a timeframe as we are able.” In the meantime, the agency has encouraged customers to conduct business online or by mail.
In addition, the DMV has held several DMV Connect visits in recent months. In this program, DMV officials have set up a mobile office in the Smithfield Center to provide in-person assistance with vehicle and driver’s license-related services.
Cowardin said the General Assembly and the governor must authorize capital projects to relocate facilities. The DMV received authorization during the General Assembly’s special session, which concluded in November, to relocate the local DMV office. “DMV, working with the Department of General Services, has the authority to determine the most suitable building to lease based on operational needs and cost,” Cowardin said.
“I have received many calls and emails about the status of the Smithfield DMV temporary closure,” said state Del. Emily Brewer, whose 64th District includes part of Isle of Wight. “My office has been able to successfully assist hundreds of local citizens in connecting with the DMV in a very short time period. If anyone is experiencing barriers to service with any DMV services, I would encourage them to reach out to my office so we may quickly assist them.”
“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee,” Brewer continued, “I was able to secure funding and approve the relocation of the Smithfield DMV during this past Special Session. I look forward to the reopening of a state of the art DMV Customer Service Center for our residents.”
State Sen. John Cosgrove, whose 14th District includes part of Isle of Wight, said he had just spoken with the DMV commissioner, Richard Holcomb, before speaking with The Smithfield Times. Cosgrove said Holcomb “is committed to having another facility in the town of Smithfield but not at the same location.”
Asked if he had a sense of the timing on selecting a new location, Cosgrove said “I think it’s probably going to be closer to maybe the middle of 2021 when they have a better idea.” He also reiterated that funding for a new DMV facility “was contained in the budget we just passed in the special session. The commissioner has the full latitude and authority to replace that office in the town of Smithfield.”
Cosgrove said visiting the Smithfield DMV was a pleasant experience, thanks to the sincere, professional and polite service provided by the Smithfield-based employees.
“My mother-in-law lives in the town of Smithfield and actually I went over to get my motorcycle license in the Smithfield office because those ladies are a gift from God — they are just such nice people.”
“Those ladies were so nice and helpful — it was such a breath of fresh air,” Cosgrove continued. “I didn’t tell them who I was. I just said, ‘Hey, I need to get a motorcyclist’s license.’ And one of the ladies says ‘Honey, does your wife know you’re doing this?’ And I said, ‘Yes ma’am she sure does.’”
When the transaction was done, he gave them his business card. Cosgrove demurred when the employees implored that he should have identified himself as a state legislator. “I said ‘No, I just wanted to see what was going to happen.’ And I took the manager aside and said, ‘This is the most pleasant DMV I’ve ever been in.’”
For people who need to or prefer to conduct DMV business in person, service is available by appointment at customer centers in Suffolk, Portsmouth and Hampton; vehicle-related transactions, such as titling and registration may be conducted by appointment at the Newport News DMV Select location on Jefferson Avenue. Visit dmvnow.com to conduct online transactions and for additional DMV-related information.