Illinois motorists apparently are still getting used to the decision by the secretary of state’s office to no longer send out reminders by mail to renew license plate stickers.
Secretary of State Jesse White decided last September to eliminate sending out reminders by mail to renew vehicle stickers to save on costs due to the ongoing budget impasse in Springfield. Residents who are unaware of the move have been receiving fines. A press release did appear in The Reporter last fall but several callers said they had missed it and were unaware of the new procedure.
Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said that his office has received a few calls about the fines. He and his staff have since posted information about how to contact the secretary of state’s office on the city website, www.paloshills.org.
“The Secretary of State’s office has taken in a lot of money from the fines,” said Bennett. “This has been going on for about six months ago. That’s why we decided to post it on our website. We thought it was a good idea to have these reminders so people can see.”
The fine for a late renewal is $20. According to the Associated Press, Illinois motorists paid close to $2 million in fines for the month of March alone. The total fines from January to March of 2015 were $2.2 million. The total fines from January through March of this year are $4.9 million, according to the AP.
White’s office made the move because officials said that they would save about $450,000 a month in postage costs.
“The lack of a fiscal year 2016 budget is adversely impacting the secretary of state’s office and threatens to jeopardize the services we provide to the public,” White said in a statement. “Without a state budget in place, we are doing what we can to manage so that we may serve the people of Illinois for as long as possible. As a result, difficult decisions like suspending renewal reminder notice mailings are decisions we are being forced to make.”
About 800,000 renewal notices used to be sent out each month. The change meant that vehicle owners now have to remember when their license stickers are up for renewal.
Residents can still get notices by email if they register online. They need to do that through the secretary of state’s website, cyberdriveillinois.com. Those people will also have the information needed to renew their license stickers online.
Those who don’t have access to email or a computer will have to go to a drivers’ license facility in order to renew their stickers.
White’s office reported that 413,709 drivers renewed their registration in November. The renewal rate for November 2014 was 512,760, which is a reduction of just over 19 percent. The margin was even greater for March. According to the secretary of state’s office, 301,965 renewals occurred last month.
Compare that to March 2014 in which the renewals were 475,314. This is a reduction of just over 36 percent from a year ago. Vehicle owners could receive a 30-day grace period to renew their registration without fines or tickets under legislation that was introduced in the House.
The bill is somewhat redundant because Illinois drivers already have 30 days after their stickers expire to pay before they are charged a $20 fine. However, it would prevent law enforcement from sending out tickets in that same time period.
Residents can check their expiration dates and renew a tag before the deadline. Motorists can renew their license plate number information in person by dropping in at any secretary of state offices. Residents can provide the information verbally or have it written down when entering one of the facilities. Renewals can take place at any time during the year.
The Illinois Environmental Agency is also no longer sending out by mail emission test reminders. EPA officials said that the tests are scheduled every other year. More information can be obtained by calling the EPA emission testing at (847) 758-3400 or visit www.ilsos.gov/regstatus.