California DMV Computer Outage Linked to Loss of Hard Disks

Despite the field office outages, DMV online services are still available and the department is updating its list of affected offices on its website.

by / October 25, 2016
The California Department of Motor Vehicles also suffered a statewide computer outage in mid-August 2012, which disrupted many in-office services at the time. Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/MCT

Editor's note: This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. to reflect updates on the continuing outage.

On the afternoon of Oct. 24, the California Department of Motor Vehicles experienced a major computer outage that impacted multiple offices statewide. While some offices are back up and running, many remain down, according to an official statement.

“Crews have been working all night to rebuild the system and get offices back up and running,” the statement reads. “The offices that are still down will continue providing drive tests, making return appointments, helping with paperwork and answering customer’s questions.”

Offices are coming online slowly, said DMV Public Information Officer Artemio Armenta, adding that online services are still available, and the department is updating its list of affected offices on its website. At 5 p.m. on Oct. 25, Armenta said the DMV anticipated that all field offices would be up and running on Wednesday morning, Oct. 26, but by noon, many offices were still listed as offline.

According to a statement released at 3 p.m. on Oct. 26, of the DMV's 188 total facilities, including field offices, which serve the public, 87 are fully operational. A total of "122 were impacted by an outage to our servers, 66 were not impacted by this incident," the statement read. "Of the 122 impacted, 21 are now fully operational, 17 are partially operational, meaning they can only process driver license and identification card transactions." 

Staff are continuing to work around the clock to get the issue resolved.

"We ... apologize for any inconvenience this issue has caused," said Armenta, who also confirmed that the outage is not due to a cyberattack.

"The catastrophic failure was the loss of several hard disks in a primary and backup system," he told Government Technology via email, also noting that the department "got messaging on our social media platform for customers (Facebook, Twitter) ..."

The DMV suffered a statewide computer outage in mid-August 2012 that disrupted many in-office services at the time. Computers went down at DMV field offices around 8 a.m. after a problem occurred at the state Office of Technology Services, but as of 12:20 p.m. that same day, officials said services had returned to normal.

Whether the two incidents are related is not yet known. "We’re still assessing," Armenta said. "Our primary concern is to get service up for our customers."

Jessica Mulholland Former Web Editor/Photographer

Jessica Mulholland served as the Web editor of Government Technology magazine from October 2012 through September 2017. She worked for the Government Technology editorial team for nearly 10 years.