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Shelby County Clerk's Office launches new system to cut long wait times

The new program limits outside line lengths, allows customers to leave a number, cool off in their cars or nearby can get called back when it's their turn.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Starting Tuesday, Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert instituted new changes following weeks of criticism from customers forced to wait in the heat for hours to get a new license plate or tag.

With those long lines and heat not letting up at older and smaller offices, Halbert launched a new program designed to greatly cut down on time outside in the elements and allow customers more time to stay cool.

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That included Brianna Jones, a mother of two, who ABC24 caught up with at the Raleigh office location.

"I was miserable getting out the car thinking I was going to have to stand out there," Jones said. "It's different, but it's cool. I'm cool. It's better. I've been in long lines like on Summer at the DMV since COVID and I'm glad they let me sit in the car this time."

Halbert said recent wait times of as long as four hours in the heat were unacceptable. Now, employees in the Clerk's office get phone numbers when customers arrive, with only 15 to 20 people allowed in line outside at a time.

Once there are about five customers in line, customers who are cooling in their cars or elsewhere nearby are called back to get in line.

"When there's a little more structure to the process even though we don't have the technology and the employee complement, than something different is happening," Halbert said.

She reported the Raleigh office's wait times dropped to about 45 minutes Tuesday, far better than the multi-hour waits reported earlier this summer.

"A simple process of calling the customers in works well," Halbert said.

As for Jones, her start to finish experience ended up a little more than a half hour.

"I'm happy, yeah, because I'm like, it's super hot out there, like, it's crazy hot outside right now," Jones said.

In some cases, the Shelby County Clerk's Office is also offering a priority voucher for next day services, if people arrive at certain times in the late afternoon and can't be served before close.

Halbert said those customers eligible for vouchers are as follows:

  • Mullins Station: after 2 p.m. but arriving 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Whitehaven: after 3:00 p.m. but arriving 3:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Mullins Station: after 4 p.m. but arriving 4:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Raleigh: after 3:30 p.m. but arriving 4:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

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