Long lines at the BMV reopening, agency extends expiration date for licenses

A trip to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles usually involves waiting in line, but Ohioans on Tuesday waited hours as their local BMV offices reopened for the first time after the coronavirus shutdown.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered BMVs closed in March and many Ohioans’ driver’s license or ID cards have expired in that time.

For people who had driver's license or ID car expire after March 9, the expiration date has automatically been extended until 90 days after Ohio's state of emergency ends or Dec. 1, 2020, whichever comes first, according to the Ohio BMV.

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“You don’t have to rush to a location,” said Ohio BMV spokeswoman Lindsey Bohrer. “People have an extension through the end of the pandemic.”

Bohrer said the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 197, which allows Ohioans to have the extension on their expired license or ID card.

Drivers can get temporary tags, renew or replace license plates and check their vehicle’s registration status online, Bohrer said.

The website to do that is oplates.com. On the main page of the Ohio BMV website, there is also an interactive checklist that people can use to determine if they need to make an in-person trip to the BMV or not.

Bohrer encouraged those who must go to the BMV to get in line via an online appointment maker. On Tuesday, the online appointment maker went down amidst long lines.

The BMV in Moraine had a line before it opened at 8 a.m. today.

Ashley Thompson said she waited in line at the BMV in Moraine for about 30 minutes. After going through the line, she was told she then had to wait to get a text message to get what she originally came to the BMV for on Tuesday morning.

“I waited in line to wait again. So I’m upset, but it’s okay,” Thompson said.

Thompson said there were about 50 people in line before her on Tuesday.

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Thompson said some of the people waiting in line with her seemed “standoffish” and were talking about the coronavirus. Others seemed completely comfortable. Many waiting in line wore face masks.

Ohio BMV employees are required to wear masks. BMV customers are also encouraged to wear masks.

Employees are cleaning work stations in between customers and only letting about half of the building’s capacity in at a time, which could be contributing to long lines, Bohrer said.

“We are trying to make this as safe as possible,” Bohrer said.

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