Spike in driver’s license renewals could mean longer waits

Posted June 24, 2011, at 5:17 p.m.

Mainers who need to renew their driver’s licenses between now and the end of 2013 may encounter more than the usual congestion at their local Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices. The bureau expects a sharp increase in the number of license renewal applications beginning next month and lasting through the end of 2013.

In an effort to streamline the renewal process, the BMV reminds Mainers to bring with them two essential documents. One document must verify residency in the state of Maine and may include a valid driver’s license, a tax bill, a marriage certificate or weapons permit. The second document must prove the applicant’s legal presence in the United States and may include a birth certificate, passport, certification of naturalization or resident alien card.

For each of the past two years, the bureau has processed about 128,000 driver’s license renewals. Applications are expected to increase to about 237,500 in the next 12 months and 249,000 during the following 12 months before leveling off to about 190,000 per year.

The coming spike is related to a 1993 change in Maine licensing laws that made driver’s licenses effective for six years instead of four years. In the years since the new regulation took effect, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has issued four-, six-, and eight-year licenses in an effort to stagger renewal dates and allow for consistent staffing within the bureau. During the coming two-year peak, about 40,000 licenses will be renewed for four years instead of six years in order to correct the renewal cycle.

The cost of renewing a license will be $5 per effective year — $20 for a four-year license and $25 for a five-year license.

In some cases, driver’s licenses may be renewed online. For more information and a list of acceptable qualifying documents, visit the BMV website at www.maine.gov/sos/bmv or call 624-9000.

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