License and registration deadline closes in after pandemic extension

Ohio residents have until Thursday to renew their drivers’ licenses and tags that expired on or after March 9, 2020, without penalty.

After that, individuals caught driving with expired licenses or tags could get slapped with a fine or ticketed by a law enforcement official, according to state registrar of motor vehicles Charlie Norman.

The Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles estimates about 320,000 Ohioans have vehicle registration or drivers’ licenses that need to be renewed, Norman said.

It’s in the best interest of Ohioans to renew their documentation as soon as possible, Norman explained.

“It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks at the BMV,” he said. “The closer we get to that July 1 deadline, the busier it will be.”

Vehicle registration can be renewed virtually, eliminating the need to visit the BMV in person for that task, according to Norman. He encouraged customers to use these virtual options, as they could help make things easier for others who might need to travel to the BMV in person.

“The more people we can have take advantage of our online services, the shorter the lines will be if you do have to go into the office,” he stated.

Furthermore, the BMV has done all they can to ensure in-person interactions are handled quickly and safely, providing online queueing options and enhanced sanitation measures, Norman said.

“Since May 26 of last year, we have done almost 15 million over the counter transactions at the DMV,” he stated. “It’s very safe if you need to come into the office. You shouldn’t be afraid to do so.”

With the deadline looming, many Southwest Ohio residents are heading to the various Bureau of Motor Vehicles branches to make sure their documentation is up-to-date. Even though the date is just a few days away, customers have been pleasantly surprised at how efficiently the bureaus are getting people in and out.

“This is the shortest line I’ve encountered since I’ve been doing this,” Dayton resident and city commissioner Chris Shaw said last week while waiting at the downtown Dayton branch.

The upcoming deadline represents the end of a grace period of over 16 months in which Ohio residents were not required to get their documentation renewed. With recent trends around the Dayton region, enforcing the deadline now is the right choice, Shaw said.

“Things are starting to open up now,” he said. “I can understand why the state would want to move forward and put COVID behind us.”

Centerville resident Marybeth Taggart echoed that sentiment, saying that she believes there’s been ample opportunity to get the necessary documents renewed during the grace period.

“It seems like (there’s been) plenty of time,” she said while at the Centerville deputy registrar office last week.

Many Ohio residents utilized the grace period, as the onset of the pandemic made it more difficult to keep up with the legal renewal requirements.

“(I) had other things going on,” said Centerville resident Max Amarante, who was at the Centerville BMV to renew his driver’s license last week. “It was on my mind, but I never really pulled the trigger on it.”

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