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Utah vehicle registration postcard reminders are officially back

SHARE Utah vehicle registration postcard reminders are officially back

Hundreds of cars wait in line at the Division of Motor Vehicles drive-thru window in Draper on April 3, 2020. 

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Those postcard reminders about your expiring vehicle registration are officially coming back less than a year after they were discontinued in favor of a paperless-only option.

The Utah State Tax Commission announced Monday that the first batch of Division of Motor Vehicles’ registration renewal notice postcards will be sent this week for Utahns whose vehicle registration expires in May.

Officials added they encouraged anyone who hasn’t already to check their physical address records to ensure that postcards are sent to the right place. Postcards will not be sent to anyone who has already signed up for an email reminder option, which remains the commission’s preferred option.

The return of the postcard service is the result of HB170, which helped bring back funding for the postcard service.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Scott Chew, R-Jensen, along with many bipartisan co-sponsors, was created after the outrage and concern caused by the end of the postcard reminder service.

Chew explained during one legislative hearing that he began working on the bill after a discussion with someone who had mentioned they didn’t have access to the internet and didn’t want to go to the DMV out of COVID-19 safety concerns.

After looking into the issue further, he realized the postcard service ended because the funding for it was cut during a special session to review the state budget last summer.

The Legislature had asked agencies, including the Utah State Tax Commission, for ways to cut spending as the pandemic slowed the economy. The commission oversees vehicle registration for the DMV and offered to end the postcard service.

DMV Director Monte Roberts said last year that switching to email reminders would be more efficient, cheaper and cut down on waste tied to postcards. The move was expected to save the state and counties combined about $1 million.

The Legislature approved the cut.

“We created this mistake,” Chew said in February.

Following a drop-off in renewals when postcards stopped, the DMV sent out one last postcard reminder in December urging Utah drivers to sign up for the email service.

In the end, it wasn’t enough to satisfy lawmakers and HB170 passed easily. The bill required the DMV to “provide a vehicle owner the option to receive notification through mail or email to inform the owner of the expiration of a vehicle’s registration.”

Even though postcards are now back, DMV officials on Monday urged Utahns to still consider signing up for the email service if they can. They argued that email notifications include all the important renewable information needed, that follow-up emails are sent if that person forgets to renew and drivers don’t have to worry about alerting the DMV if they move.

That’s in addition to it saving tax dollars on paper costs. Either way, drivers will be warned about an expiring registration through some form of communication, the agency noted.