Ohioans could face higher fees at the BMV

Transaction fees at the Ohio BMV for driver’s licenses, plate renewals and more will increase to $5 from $3.50, under a provision tucked into the 3,200-page state budget bill this week.

In previous years, lawmakers have granted permissive authority for the fee bump but governors haven’t invoked it. Language added to the budget bill will make the increase automatic, unless Gov. Mike DeWine uses his line-item veto authority on it.

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The transaction fees paid to roughly 200 deputy registrar locations, which are mostly operated by private contractors, last increased in January 2004. Since that time, the number of registrar locations has declined and the demands for document authentication have increased, according to the Ohio Deputy Registrars Association.

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The BMV, through the privately owned deputy registrars, processed 18.2 million transactions in 2018, including 13.2 million vehicle registrations, 2.6 million driver licenses, 448,000 ID cards, 408,000 motorcycle registrations and nearly 1 million specialty license plates.

The deputy registrars are also responsible for collecting money for the Save Our Sight Fund and Second Chance Fund, registering voters, and signing people up to be organ donors.

The Ohio Deputy Registrars Association argues that it needs the fee increase to cover wages and inflationary increases as well as regulatory mandates.

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said he opposed the fee increase, though he described it as a tax hike.

“This is an outrageous tax increase on every Ohioan trying to drive to work or take their kids to soccer practice. The greedy state contractors have tried this for years and have been denied every time by the registrar of the BMV, so now they turn to a last minute amendment added to the state budget in the dark of the night. This is an unbelievable tax increase on Ohio’s drivers by the most disliked entity within state government,” Antani said in a written statement.

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