Office of Motor Vehicles locations across Louisiana are expected to be operational Friday after a fire at the State Police data center in Baton Rouge shut down computer systems Thursday.
State Police spokesman Maj. Doug Cain said at 2:30 p.m. Thursday that power was restored, though people were still being turned away in at least one OMV location, on Independence Boulevard in Baton Rouge, about 3:30 p.m.
A 7 a.m. blaze at the data center downed all automated systems at the Department of Public Safety, which includes the Motor Vehicle offices.
Some OMV customers who had taken the day off from work Thursday were camped out at OMV locations all day, Cain said.
“It appears to be some sort of short that took place, because the electrical panel is burned up,” Cain said. “It’s a significant outage for the Department of Public Safety.”
At the Independence Boulevard OMV, Rosa Rivera, 55, said she left work early to get to the office a half-hour before its 4 p.m. closure in order to renew her license.
“I’m worried tomorrow it is gonna be packed,” she said. “I’m gonna wait, maybe.”
Another customer, John Watkins, decided to linger on one of the seats, even though the OMV showed no signs of reopening.
“They can’t promise tomorrow or not,” he said.
Meghan Parrish, spokeswoman for the Division of Administration, described the fire’s cause as an electrical malfunction in a power supply.
The problem disrupted administrative processes and shut down departmentwide email and Internet systems. That means State Police couldn’t process handgun permits or fingerprint background checks, and state troopers couldn’t access motor vehicle information at traffic stops, Cain said.
Criminal databases were also down, he said.
The problem with the computer system also delayed the processing of a DNA sample to determine if an Iberville Parish teacher accused of having sex with three teenage students fathered a child with one of them.
Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said the computer shutdown will hinder investigators from quickly getting the results of the DNA test they were having done of the teacher, Keavin Keith.
Stassi said they don’t know when those results will be available now.
Video poker systems across the state, which LSP operates as part of its enforcement of gaming industry regulations, were largely undisturbed, said Maj. Mike Noel, of the State Police. If the outage had persisted more than 72 hours, he said, the gaming machines would begin shutting down.
Parrish said the fire also disrupted state email and computer networks for other tenants at the public safety complex, including the Corrections, Revenue and Insurance departments, along with the state health insurance office.
The most obvious problem for the public as a result of the fire and computer problems were at OMV locations.
“Virtually every motor vehicles office in the state is unable to process transactions,” Cain said Thursday. “We’re going to continue to be staffed up with the hopes that the system will come back online, but all they can do is turn people away” until then, he said.