June 25, 2018
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BMV: First day of new license rules ‘smooth’

Starting yesterday, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles requires a passport or birth certificate and other proof that the person trying to get a Maine driver’s license is a Maine resident and is in the U.S. legally. Buy Photo
By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Though personnel at Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices around the state were prepared for problems Monday, virtually none arose, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office said.

Monday marked the first day that people seeking a new or renewed state driver’s license or identification card had to prove they were living in the country legally.

To read the requirements click here.

“I would say today, day one, has been relatively smooth and we’re thankful it has been,” Don Cookson, spokesman for Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, said late Monday afternoon, as BMV offices around the state were closing for the day.

According to Cookson, staffers at the 13 BMV locations around Maine received additional training to assist those encountering the new rule.

Despite the media blitz that preceded the new requirement, some Mainers were caught unaware when they showed up at their local BMV site, Cookson said.

Numbers were not yet available Monday, but Cookson said that administrators in charge of the state’s 13 BMV office sites reported few issues.

Waiting periods at most locations were at or below normal, Cookson said. The exception was Portland, where the typically 45-minute wait was lengthened to about an hour.

The new proof of legal presence rule is the second such requirement imposed this year. In April, the state began requiring proof of residency, namely through a range of documents listing a current Maine address.

A visit midafternoon Monday to the Bangor BMV office at the Airport Mall on Union Street, normally a busy time, found only about half a dozen customers on hand. Most of those customers were called to service windows before they even had time to settle in.

That was not the case on Friday, when lines, and waiting periods, were longer than normal, staff there noted.

Cookson and other state officials speculated Monday that the rush at BMV offices on the days leading up to the new rules taking effect was likely prompted by Mainers hoping to avoid the changes.

A similar spike in customers preceded the state’s proof of residency requirement, which took effect in April, and a recent increase in fees, Cookson said.

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