The long lines at New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission offices returned early on Wednesday — and in some cases started on Tuesday night.

Hundreds were turned away from offices on Tuesday after they became too crowded or it was determined by staff that not all customers could be helped before closing time. MVC spokesman William Connolly said the agency did not close any offices on its own, but law enforcement did because of social distancing concerns.

"In some locations, the lines outside violated the governor’s executive orders, and local law enforcement dispersed the crowd. In other locations, the lines were capped based on the agency’s capacity, and customers sent home," Connolly said.

New Jersey currently allows outdoor gatherings of up to 500 people under executive orders meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Customers started lining up on Tuesday night at some MVC offices to better their odds of getting serviced. The Freehold office was among them. The Lakewood MVC office reached capacity for the day shortly after 7 a.m., according to the Lakewood Scoop.

Kim White of Jackson, who unsuccessfully tried to pick up her daughter's license at the Freehold office on Tuesday, showed up at the Bakers Basin office in Lawrence Township at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. She described the line as being "along the building, down the side, around back, into the parking lot, around the perimeter of the back lot, and out to the front of building parking lot. I can't see where it goes after that."

MVC mobile unit at the Bakers Basin office on Wednesday
MVC mobile unit at the Bakers Basin office on Wednesday (Kim White)

Around 7:45 a.m., an Motor Vehicle Commission mobile facility pulled up to add to the office's capacity. White said worker told her the MVC would be helping five customers at a time with the mobile unit.

"It sounds like they're going to be some in the building and some in this mobile unit," she said, adding that she saw a lot of workers showing up around 6:30 a.m.

"I was really optimistic this morning, then when I got here I was like 'uhh' — but now that this mobile unit pulled in I'm like 'OK.' I feel like this could be a good thing," White said.

She said a worker walked the line to see what business customers had, and told them if they were at the right office. Workers also made sure that people moved their cars out of a lot reserved for workers and law enforcement.

The MVC has not yet returned a message on Wednesday morning asking how many mobile units were sent out.

Video submitted by New Jersey 101.5 listener Craig showed cars parked along Route 202 near the Flemington MVC office. Listener Eric Stephens posted video on his Facebook page (CAUTION: Includes profanity) of a long line along Route 28 on the sidewalk leading to the Somerville MVC office.

Gov. Phil Murphy during an interview with CBS New York echoed the advice of MVC Commissioner Sue Fulton to check and make sure that whatever you need taken care of by the MVC could be done online. He said he had “unending symphony” for those who were waiting in line.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick on his Twitter account made suggestions as to how Murphy should address the current problem, including opening seven days a week for 12 hours a day, putting a 90-day moratorium on all motor vehicle regulation enforcement, setting up social distancing outside MVC offices and issuing an apology "for the incompetent opening of MVC."


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