California DMV Wait Times Analysis

This is my first post in a blog about the joy of doing interesting and useful things with data. I’m dedicating it to my beautiful love Jenia Kosoy who, by just patiently tolerating my inappropriately timed ramblings about data, has inspired me to create this blog and helps me grow personally much more then she knows. Her lovely smile is my guiding light, apparently shining in the direction of helping folks spend less time at the DMV.

On to the post:
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) publishes the current wait times for each of their field offices.

Both appointment and non-appointment real-time wait times are published. While it’s a step in the right direction, current wait times do not help DMV goers answer useful questions such as:

  • Which day of the week is it typically best to go to my DMV?
  • Which hour of the day is best?
  • If I can go to more than one DMV, which one should I go to?

Also some less functional, but still interesting questions relating to wait times can be addressed:

  • What are the best or worst DMV’s in the state?
  • How has the DMV faired overall, improving or not?
  • The same can be asked of each field office, how have they done over time?

My goal with the below analysis is to help make the DMV visit a less painful one by releasing DMV wait time information thus allowing the folks to make smarter decisions surrounding their DMV visit. Based on the data (and common sense) the best way to avoid lines at the DMV is to schedule an appointment ahead of time. DMV allows anyone to do this through their website. The data shows that, in general, appointment wait times are under 10 minutes in most DMV offices, most of the time. Chances are that if you already thought ahead enough to make the appointment for your visit, the information in this post would not be of any added benefit to you; the decision to make the appointment saves more time than any other decision which this information could help make.

Thus all of the below wait times are for non-appointments, walk-ins only.

Map and Wait Time Table – Map is interactive, clicking on a station will narrow down the data in the table. The map which shows high wait times in red and low and green clearly shows that Los Angeles has some of the worst wait times in the state. Makes sense, lots of cars down there.


Weekly Trend for All DMV’s – When is the best day to go to a DMV? Taking all of the data into account, Wednesday are the best, Thursdays second best. Mondays are the worst by far, so if you have to go to the DMV, avoid Mondays, go Wednesdays or Thursdays.


Weekly Trend and Detail for Specific DMV Offices – Let’s dig into the weekly trend. The interactive analysis below allows you to select your DMV station of interest and see the detail of the weekly trend for that station.


10 Best and Worst DMV Stations

DMV Monthly Trend – How has the DMV as an organization performed over the last 9 months? This is the question that the below interactive monthly chart aims to address.