Colorado DMV website overwhelmed as noncitizens try to get driver's licenses

DENVER - Late Wednesday, the Department of Motor Vehicles appointment website was still not working, the day after non U.S. citizens were allowed to start making appointments to get their driver's licenses.

A state spokesperson told 7NEWS that IT contractors are working to find a fix, but there's no timeline for when the site will be working. People also experienced long waits and hang ups on the appointment phone line Tuesday and Wednesday.

The DMV said the Schedule an Appointment website averaged 70,000 hits an hour with a high of 107,500 hits hourly. 

A total of 823 appointments were scheduled. 

The Colorado Legislature passed a measure in 2013 that would allow those who don't have a social security number, including undocumented immigrants, to obtain a driver's license if they can prove they live in Colorado. Licenses will start being issued Aug. 1.

7NEWS asked why the DMV was encountering these troubles when it had a year to prepare.

"The first thing I want to make clear is that this program is not scheduled to roll out until August 1, 2014," said Dept. of Revenue spokeswoman Daria Serna, in an emailed statement. "So what we are doing this month is a preparation program and it includes more than the appointment scheduling, it includes providing information to this community -- which we have done and will continue to do so through the advocacy groups and through our website."

An additional hurdle to getting an appointment is that there are only five DMV offices in Colorado that will provide the noncitizen licenses. 

"I think the way it is, with five places, it could be years before I get my license," said Homero Ocon, who's been trying to make an appointment.

American Friends Service Committee, advocates for immigrants' rights, said the state needs to fix the system and provide more locations where licenses are available.

"Having a system where people have to wait months or years to get a license doesn't stand up to what the law is meant to do," said Gabriela Flora, a regional organizer for the group.

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