Self-service Car Registrations

At The Mall: Computer Kiosks Bring Simplicity And Convenience To License Renewals.

April 24, 1997

COMING YOUR WAY soon: Automated state government terminals in shopping malls that let you renew your automobile registration in just minutes. This could lead to wider use of ATM-style machines to obtain government permits and licenses.

The first one in the Baltimore area begins operation tomorrow at Owings Mills Mall. By June, other computer kiosks will be set up at Cranberry Mall in Westminster, The Mall at Columbia, White Marsh Mall and Kenilworth Plaza in Towson. These kiosks should take some of the hassle out of dealing with government.

For instance, all you need to renew your auto registration is a check or credit card. Follow instructions on the screen, insert the appropriate information and out comes a new registration card and sticker. That surely beats standing in line forever at Motor Vehicle Administration headquarters in Glen Burnie or at an MVA branch location. It is markedly faster than renewing your registration by mail.

Benefits from the computer revolution are showing up in the way government agencies interact with citizens. This year, 156,000 Marylanders filed their state income tax returns electronically -- a 30 percent increase. "Tele-filing" and transmitting your tax forms from a personal computer are only a few years away. Nationally, 4.7 million people used a touch-tone telephone to file their federal income-tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

The MVA already has decentralized its operations to make itself more accessible to customers. It has full-service branches and mini-branches and soon 11 self-service computer terminals in malls. That number could be expanded to 27 sites if demand proves the worth of these kiosks.

Day or night, you can head for one of the 11 malls, get on-line and register your vehicle (unless you haven't paid outstanding fines). Eventually, you may use these machines to renew other state licenses and sign up for camp sites and cabins in state parks. Officials are looking into tying home computers with licensing and permitting agencies via the Internet, too.

No wasted time. Less aggravation. Quick contact with government. And perhaps some savings of tax dollars. Maryland government's embrace of on-line terminals promises to make life easier for millions of its citizens.

Pub Date: 4/24/97

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