Dispatch Column: Advance planning, online tools reduce waits at BMV

The administration of Gov. Mike DeWine has set a new course to deliver services using more customer-friendly technology at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the face of state government nearly everyone interacts with.

Being tested now is the "Get in line-online" pre-BMV-visit customer sign-up tool. The system alerts customers when their local deputy registrar office is ready for them, cutting down time in the line due to increased paperwork requirements for the federally compliant REAL ID driver's license. This modest technology innovation and others yet to come will, in time, ensure less hassle and more efficient service, but please be patient.

Before heading out to get your new Ohio driver's license or state ID, you should know the two kinds now available to Ohio residents. Rather than call the BMV, try using online chat tools at www.ohiobmv.gov to get answers first — it's much quicker. Improved use of technology and ensuring the independent-contractor deputy registrars have the necessary resources and compensation to pay their staffs is key to success in reducing wait times.

What has changed since last July is the added time involved in issuing compliant DLs and IDs; processing driver's license reinstatements; and other tasks shifted to deputy registrars. Some Ohio BMV customers are not used to the much longer wait times this added work has caused. Nor are they always familiar with what they need to get a compliant driver's license or state ID that will be required Oct. 1, 2020, for everyone wanting access to a scheduled airline or federal facility without having to produce a U.S. passport or passport card.

The change in how states are required by federal law to issue driver's licenses and state IDs has been coming for a while, mandated by the 2005 Federal REAL ID Act after the 9/11 attacks. The federal law was designed to make DL/ID issuance more secure; that is, making them less easy for terrorists to obtain (as they did prior to 9/11), making DLs/IDs harder to counterfeit and making identities harder to steal or compromise.

On their face, the compliant DL/ID card requirements appear easy enough, especially if you want just an Ohio standard or no-compliant DL/ID — a customer option. A standard DL/ID, however, won't get you on a plane, on a military base or into most federal facilities.

But you'll have to produce certain original "source documents" when you apply for an Ohio compliant DL/ID. These documents prove that you are who you say you are. Examples are:

1. A U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport or passport card; these show your full legal name, U.S. citizenship and date of birth.

2. Next is proof of Social Security number (W-2 or Social Security card); and,

3. Two written proofs of where you currently reside (printed bank statement, utility bill, etc., with your name on it — has to match your name fairly closely, not someone else's). Required source documents and an online customer checklist are at www.bmv.ohio.gov/NEWDL-ID.

4. Married women, married couples who changed their name and those who have been married and divorced: be prepared to have certified copies of all marriage licenses and divorce decrees showing the progression of name changes. As an alternative, securing a U.S. passport in lieu of a birth certificate will easily match your current name and may be a better option.

The BMV must then scan these source documents into the BMV database.

These customer strategies may reduce the frustration:

1. Use the BMV online DL/ID checklist app and register online before you go stand in line.

2. Find the required source documents you need now even though you have until Oct. 1, 2020, to get your compliant DL/ID. (Even if your current Ohio DL or state ID expires after Oct. 1, 2020, you'll need a new compliant Ohio DL/ID if your current license or ID was issued before July 2, 2018.)

3. Get a U.S. passport or passport card with your current name.

4. Get to your local BMV deputy registrar early and use the new online signup.

Better days are ahead providing we, as customers, do some advance preparation.

Mike Rankin is former Ohio BMV registrar under Govs. Ted Strickland and John Kasich from 2007-09 and 2011-14, respectively. He is a lawyer and consultant serving the DMV community in North America.

https://www.dispatch.com/opinion/20190719/column-advance-planning-online-tools-reduce-waits-at-bmv?template=ampart