The state transportation secretary said yesterday that a series of previously adopted, pending and planned changes in Motor Vehicle Administration procedures could eventually save state motorists millions of trips to the MVA annually.
"I don't know anybody who likes to go to MVA," Secretary O. James Lighthizer said. "It has nothing to do with [MVA] people necessarily. Who likes to go to wait in line and pay money?"
Secretary Lighthizer said the changes announced yesterday would likely mean shorter lines.
The most important move was an order by the secretary extending the renewal period for driver's licenses from four to five years.
The General Assembly gave the secretary the power to extend renewals at a special budget session in June. At the time, legislators also authorized him to increase more than 63 MVA fees, including raising the price of renewing a driver's license from $6 to $20.
Another change due in January, he said, involves registrations. Now, the purchaser of a car with, say, three months left on its registration must pay for a new registration, then renew it three months later. Beginning Jan. 1, he said, anyone who buys a car and re-registers it will have a year before the registration expires.
The MVA also began shifting its alcohol counseling program for people convicted of drunken driving to private companies six months ago, eliminating the need for motorists to travel to MVA offices.
Secretary Lighthizer said he would ask legislators at the coming General Assembly session for the power to extend the registration period for cars and small trucks from one year to two.
He will also ask for the power to automatically renew a driver's license when a motorist comes in to replace a lost or stolen license.
"These changes could eliminate about 2 million trips per year to the MVA," he said. "That's about 40 percent of the total transactions."
He said the changes could eventually reduce the need to open new MVA offices around the state.
Changes adopted, planned and proposed by Department of Transportation officials to reduce trips to Motor Vehicle Administration offices:
* Shifting education programs for drunken drivers to private firms scattered around state.
Planned for Jan. 1:
* Extension of driver's license renewals from four to five years.
* Giving car buyers a year to renew registrations after the car's purchase. Now, if someone buys a car with three months left on its registration, he or she must switch registrations, then renew it three months.
Proposed for July 1992 (needs legislative approval):
* Extending registration renewals on cars and small trucks from one year to two.
* Renewing driver's licenses at the time that duplicate or replacement licenses are issued.