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Postcard vehicle registration reminders may be on the horizon for forgetful Utah drivers

Budget move dropping notices in 2020 draws heat after people forget to renew plates

Hundreds of cars wait in line at the Division of Motor Vehicles drive-thru window in Draper on Friday, April 3, 2020. Some waited in line for hours.
Hundreds of cars wait in line at the Division of Motor Vehicles drive-thru window in Draper on Friday, April 3, 2020. Some waited in line for hours.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Normally, people don’t like to see mail from the DMV. But one lawmaker says last year’s switch from reminder postcards for upcoming car registration renewals to emailed notices has led to many forgetful Utahns driving on expired tags.

“We need to bring back postcard renewal,” Rep. Scott Chew, R-Jensen said. “It’s OK to move toward electronic, but we need to have a means to do that instead of just cold turkey, jerking the rug out from (under) everybody.”

His HB170 goes to the full House for debate after members of the House Transportation Committee on Monday unanimously backed reinstating postcard reminders from the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles — at an added fee for printing and postage costs — to vehicle owners who don’t want emailed notices.

Beginning last fall, according to Chew, some Utahns began to realize the registrations for their vehicle had expired because they were no longer receiving renewal notifications from the DMV.

According to the agency website, postcard reminders that listed resident’s required registration fee and other information were discontinued in September after the department was told to make budget cuts amid state belt-tightening because of the pandemic.

The DMV allows vehicle owners to sign up at dmv.utah.gov/register for notification via email for upcoming registration deadlines, but Chew does not believe the system is working.

Chew “doesn’t know anybody” who has received these email notifications, even though they say they signed up, he said.

The end of mailed notice of registration renewals posed larger problems for households or businesses that have a fleet of vehicles.

“My family also owns and operates on a farm in Uintah County, and we have 20 vehicles to license,” Marcia Hanberg told the committee. “It has been especially challenging for us to keep up with it, because nobody is specifically assigned to deal with that issue, with registering the vehicles.

“And so we’ve always relied on the state to notify service of this,” she said.