DMV should hit the gas pedal on technology

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — No matter what states we have lived in, most of us no doubt have encountered the frustrating waits that seem common at government motor vehicle registration and driver licensing offices.

Take a number, wait until it’s called, and then hope to have all the documents that are required to conduct your transaction.

Many states have acted to thin out the number of people who crowd those offices by offering some services via the Internet. For example, 47 states allow people to renew their vehicle registrations online, and 27 states make it possible for motorists to renew their driver licenses through a website. Some have enabled their residents to make those types of transactions for more than a decade.

But West Virginia isn’t among them. The result is people are forced to travel to Department of Motor Vehicles offices to complete those two basic tasks, adding to those long waits. Another outcome is that the state is losing out on an opportunity to save money, according to a legislative audit recently made public.

The audit concluded that making such services as renewal of vehicle registration and driver licenses and the purchase of special plates available online would “save the agency money, increase convenience and cost-savings to customers, and increase the efficiency of service at DMV centers.”

Those all appear to be good things, and build upon the findings of a similar legislative audit in 2002 on the same topic. That report from more than a decade ago estimated that the cost per transaction of online renewals would be less than half of renewals conducted in DMV offices.

DMV officials responded then that they were willing to explore the possibility, but no progress has been made, according to a report by The Associated Press.

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