State: Renewal notices back in the mail

By Amy Korte 
Illinois Policy

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced Aug. 1 his office will resume mailing license-plate-renewal reminders. Funds from the stopgap budget passed June 30 will allow White’s office to mail reminder notices to vehicle owners starting in August.

White’s office suspended mailing license-plate-renewal reminders as of October 2015 to save $450,000 a month during the state’s budget crisis. As a result, many more Illinoisans have renewed their license plates this year. In fact, over 476,000 motorists received $20 fines for late vehicle registration renewal in the first five and a half months of 2016, compared with around 214,000 people from January through mid-June 2015, according to data the secretary of state’s office provided to the Belleville News-Democrat.

The lack of mailed license-plate-renewal reminders resulted in the state of Illinois receiving an increase of $5.24 million in late fees during the first five and a half months of 2016, according to the Belleville News-Democrat. Between January and June 21, 2016, Illinois vehicle owners paid $9.53 million in fees for renewing their license plates late, up from$4.29 million during the same period in 2015.

Illinoisans who renew their vehicle registrations late are subject to a fee of $20 in addition to the $101 renewal fee, and anyone driving with expired registration risks traffic tickets as well.

Although the secretary of state reinstated the mailing of renewal notices, he did urge vehicle owners to sign up for online renewal reminders and said his office is also looking for other ways to save taxpayers money. According to a report in The Southern Illinoisan, the secretary of state’s office is drafting a bill that would allow it to offer ad space in mailed notices and take people who have signed up for email license-plate-renewal reminders off the mailing list.

White reported that 2.3 million people have signed up for email registration renewal reminders, 800,000 of whom have done so since October 2015. Vehicle owners can sign up online for email reminders of registration renewal deadlines.

In his Aug. 1 announcement, White said, “The driving public paid the price for the budget impasse and it proved to be an unfair burden.”

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