Updated October 19, 2020 - 9:22 am
As the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles continues to operate at reduced capacity under COVID-19 regulations, some motorists who looked to skip going to a DMV office or kiosk have encountered an issue.
Las Vegas resident Norm Williams was among several to reach out to the Road Warrior saying he renewed his vehicle’s registration and classic rod plates via mail in September but hadn’t received his plate decals.
“I chose to renew by mail over a month ago,” Williams said in an Oct. 5 email. “However, they haven’t processed my renewal and now my vehicle has expired. I’ve tried several times and I can’t reach them by phone and they don’t respond to any of my email requests for info.”
Williams wasn’t sure what his next step should be.
“I don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to do,” he said.
“I plan to submit another payment to them but I don’t even know if they are processing payments at this time,” he said. “Meanwhile my tags are expired and I could receive a ticket and as far as I know I’m subject to late fees, which I don’t feel that I should have to pay.”
DMV spokesman Kevin Malone acknowledged there was a backlog in mail-in registrations. He said those were being tended to as quickly as possible.
“The DMV does have a backlog of mailed registration renewals due to the COVID closure earlier this year and the ongoing social distancing restrictions,” Malone said. “We are now working on renewals received in early September.”
Motorists like Williams need not worry about late fees, as the DMV will honor mail-in payments postmarked before their due date.
“We will not charge late fees on renewals that expired during the COVID extension, specifically, those with an expiration date of March 12 to July 15 that were mailed by Sept. 13,” Malone said.
Any registration renewal made outside of the grace period that was not mailed by the expiration date will incur late fees, Malone said.
To avoid any additional issues with mail-in registrations, Malone encourages motorists to renew online or at DMV kiosks, if possible.
Motorists who mailed renewals prior to September should check their registration status online, Malone said. If they’re listed as expired, they should consider an online or kiosk renewal. Classic-vehicle owners can have a smog check completed to enable online or kiosk renewals. Expired registrations, outside of the grace period, will incur late fees, Malone said.
If motorists who sent in their registration renewal via mail are pulled over for having expired plates, they can explain their situation to an officer in an attempt to avoid a citation, but unless the motorist has proof of mailing there is no way to verify a renewal was mailed.
“The DMV has reached out to the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association to alert them to this issue and asked once again that Nevada law enforcement officers use discretion with individuals who have registration lapses given our current backlogs,” Malone said. “The NVSCA communicated this information to its membership.”
Aside from mail-in registration issues, the DMV is also tending to a problem that caused renewals to be printed with incorrect dates.
“The DMV had technical issues with printing some registration renewals that were completed as far back as June. Approximately 39,000 were printed with incorrect expiration dates and another 26,000 were not printed at all,” Malone said.
The department has printed and mailed all of these documents as of this week, he added. Customers with completed renewals who have been waiting for decals should receive them shortly.
The registrations issues are the latest setbacks the DMV has dealt with after being shut down for months and reopening with 200,000 vehicle registrations expired and tens of thousands of driver’s licenses up for renewal.
To address the majority of expired or expiring licenses, the DMV began to allow most to be renewed online. Since the DMV launched the service on Sept. 21, over 20,000 residents have renewed their license or ID card online, Malone said.
The lack of available in-person appointments due to building capacity limits the DMV has been pushing online transactions, as Malone said the majority of the registration renewals could be carried out online or at a kiosk. Drivers 65 and older were given a one-year extension from their driver’s license expiration dates.
Additionally, the DMV introduced walk-in hours for new residents, to allow them to get a Nevada license or ID card and license plate. Not only was that aimed at allowing those with out-of-state documents, it also allowed new resident to get proper state identification to allow them to register to vote in the November election.