WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Hundreds of customers thought the lines at the state Department of Motor Vehicles' office at 200 Hamilton Ave. would be shorter on Tuesday -- perhaps because state offices had been closed for the three-day Columbus Day holiday.
They were wrong.
About 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the seats were nearly full and dozens of unlucky state taxpayers lined up to the glass doorway to the DMV office. At that point, state DMV workers were estimating the wait would be about three hours, prompting some people to leave.
The DMV office officially closes at 4 p.m., but those lucky enough to be inside the door before 4 o'clock are supposed to get served.
For anyone who parks at meters on adjoining streets, it costs $1 per hour, fed by quarters, with a one-hour limit until 6 p.m. Anyone who leaves the DMV office to feed the meter is out of luck if their number is called in the meantime -- or once the glass doors are shut by DMV at 4 p.m.
The privately-operated lot next door to DMV costs $5 for the first hour, and more after that. On Tuesday, the lot was nearly full, so people began to park illegally next to the entrance.
Some unhappy DMV customers left to return to work, or after-school responsibilities. A couple said, "You know, Peekskill's office is open until 4 o'clock."
Sure enough, after barely missing gridlock on Interstate 287 due to a traffic jam between the Tappan Zee Bridge and the Sprain River Parkway -- and then a street closure in Ossining due to a gas leak that backed up village traffic between Routes 9 and 9A (with a quick refueling in between) and then parking two blocks from Peekskill's DMV at 1045 Park St. -- where there were many open parking spaces at 25 -cents-per-hour.
"Hurry, they have to serve you if you're in the door before four,'' a bystander shouted as this reporter bolted into Park Mall. It was 3:57 p.m.
A security guard stood outside Peekskill DMV's glass office doors -- watching the minutes tick off..
I was inside with my paperwork (filled out from an earlier visit) and out of Peekskill DMV's doors -- with a new title, registration and NY plates by 4:14 p.m. (And no ticket on my windshield.)
Buyer beware: DMV will take a personal check, but won't let customers mix cash with plastic to complete transactions -- including the whopping 7.75 percent sales tax on the reported purchase price.
Online reservations can be made here for some DMV services at select time slots in Westchester and Rockland counties, but not yet in Putnam or Dutchess counties.