Language Access Services

Issued Date
October 26, 2023
Motor Vehicles, Department of


To determine if the Department of Motor Vehicles is adequately serving the needs of individuals with Limited English Proficiency, including complying with Executive Order 26.1 and New York State Executive Law Chapter 18, Article 10, Section 202-A. The audit covered the period from October 2020 through April 2023.

About the Program

To assist Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals and provide equal access to government programs and services, Executive Order 26, issued on October 6, 2011, established a statewide language access policy in New York State. The order required Executive State agencies that provide direct public services to translate vital documents into the six most common non-English languages in the State based on U.S. Census data and to provide interpretation services. Executive Order 26.1, issued on March 23, 2021, amended Executive Order 26 and increased the number of languages that vital documents were to be translated into to 10. New York State Executive Law Chapter 18, Article 10, Section 202-A (Executive Law), which took effect on July 1, 2022, codified and expanded the State’s language access policy requiring translation of vital documents into the 12 most common non-English languages. The Executive Law also required such agencies to publish a Language Access Plan (Plan) that sets forth the actions the agency will take to ensure meaningful access to their services for LEP New Yorkers. The Department of Motor Vehicles (Department or DMV) is one of the agencies required to develop a Plan.

The Department operates 30 public-facing DMV offices (State DMVs) in the following counties: Albany, Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Onondaga, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester. In the remaining counties, there are 100 office locations operated by the County Clerks (County DMVs), who act as agents of the State pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law Title 2, Article 2, Section 205. The Department’s Plan was last updated on October 1, 2022, and outlines procedures that customer-facing Department offices are expected to follow, including: training of staff; tracking of languages encountered by analyzing language assistance data; and using the Department’s contracted vendor, LanguageLine Solutions (Language Line), for interpretation services. According to the Department, between October 2020 and September 2022, Language Line received a total of 160,276 calls from State DMVs and 189 calls from County DMVs.

Key Findings

  • State and County DMVs were not following aspects of the Department’s Plan. For example, 22 County DMVs and one State DMV that we visited were not using Language Line for interpretation services. However, we also determined that, due to gaps in the law, the Department does not have sufficient authority to enforce its language access policies at County DMVs, despite these offices accounting for over 75% of the total customer-facing Department offices.
  • The Department relies only on Language Line data in assessing additional language needs, and does not track any statistics of LEP customers served outside of those Language Line calls. The Department does not analyze publicly available American Community Survey data in determining language access needs throughout the State.
  • Language Line was not meeting the expectation of 24-hour/365-day on-demand over-the-phone interpretation services outlined in its Request for Quote (RFQ), which include providing on-demand interpretation services for all languages and dialects needed.
  • Calls for 20 different languages had an average hold time of over 30 minutes. In addition, State DMVs cited issues with disconnected calls, a lack of interpreters, and issues with dialects.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop procedures to verify that all State DMVs are complying with the requirements of the Department’s Plan.
  • Increase collaboration efforts with County DMVs to provide equal access and consistent services to LEP individuals throughout the State.
  • Collect and analyze available language statistics, and collaborate with County DMVs to develop a method to track complete and accurate statistics of non-English languages they serve throughout the State.
  • Develop procedures to ensure that RFQ expectations for interpretation services are being met.

Nadine Morrell

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director
: Nadine Morrell
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236