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New report offers 31 suggestions to try to fix Minnesota Department of Automobile Services

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New report offers 31 suggestions to try to fix Minnesota Department of Automobile Services

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Minnesotans would pay more to renew their driver’s license, but keep them for twice as long under changes that would make it easier to get their credentials while reducing workload and stress for employees and contractors. Department of Automotive Services contractors who process claims.

Deputy Registrar offices would receive a reduction in the filing fee Minnesotans pay when renewing tabs by mail or online, and potential drivers would have fewer places to take the exams, although fewer people would need to take them. . These are among 31 suggestions for improving customer service and reliability outlined in a commissioned review of the department that was released Thursday.

“This report is monumental,” said Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca), who serves on the House Transportation Committee. “This report actually suggests that we change the philosophy and culture of customer service in public agencies and entities. It is an example that the government needs to start understanding that we need to listen to the customer. [taxpayer].”

The legislature ordered the report after the Legislative Auditor’s Office in 2021 found that long waits for driver’s license road tests and limited exam locations meant the DVS violated state law. The order specifically called for an independent review team to review operations at the deputy registrar’s offices and at all 92 state review stations.

Five of the suggestions in the Independent Review of Driver and Vehicle Services report are aimed at supporting Deputy Registrar offices, many of which operate as independent contractors for the state. The report suggests expanding their ability to provide customer service over the phone, to handle driving records and accident report requests, and to be able to accept boating license applications, which are currently handled by the Department of Natural resources.

The biggest change would be that offices would receive 25% to 50% of all filing fees, not just those levied on in-person transactions. Many deputy registrars have abandoned driver’s license services due to costs, and some like Bloomington have closed entirely as many transactions have moved online. Hennepin County spends $2.5 million to subsidize its deputy registrars while Washington County spends $500,000 to $1.5 million a year, Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL-Bloomington) said.

“If we don’t provide more financial aid, the offices will drop like flies,” he said. Offices are needed, he said, especially with a crush expected before the May deadline to get a real ID. These licenses must be requested in person.

By sharing filing fees, the goal is to have more registrars become full-service operations, he said.

The committee’s report also suggested extending the validity of a driver’s license from four to eight years. Fourteen states already do so, according to the report. He also proposes to allow residents who renew their license to do so online and to remove the requirement for people 21 and older who move to Minnesota to take a written test.

“You’re taking out some of the work,” said Rick King, chairman of the four-member independent expert team.

The report also suggests that the DVS operates only 40 to 50 exam stations and finds ways to reduce the number of people who need to retake exams, which adds to the workload and contributes to long waits for openings.

“We now have a report with specific recommendations, which the Legislature and the Department of Public Safety can consider and try to improve services for the people of the State of Minnesota,” said Sen. Scott Newman ( R-Hutchinson), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “It’s going to directly affect a lot of people.”

New report offers 31 suggestions to try to fix Minnesota Department of Automobile Services

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