CA Lawmakers Propose Biennial Vehicle Registration, Allowing Credit Card Payments at DMV Field Offices

A sign is posted in front of a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office on May 9, 2017 in Corte Madera. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A sign is posted in front of a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office on May 9, 2017 in Corte Madera. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As California continues to look for ways to curb long wait times at Department of Motor Vehicle offices, state lawmakers are introducing a series of proposals to help out motorists, including one that would permit vehicle registration every two years instead of annually.

Under Senate Bill 460, the DMV’s director would be authorized to permit biennial registration beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.

Subsequent vehicle registration renewals would be required every other year after that, according to the bill.

The legislation was introduced last Thursday by State Sen. Jim Beall, who represents the Bay Area and is the chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing committee. The committee has been working with the DMV to look for ways to ease wait times at the department’s field offices, which have long been a frequent cause for complaint among California motorists.

“We know there are systemic problems with the DMV. I’m working to tackle efficiency measures that would allow DMW employees to spend more time on customer service,” Beall said in a statement. “My bill to make registration two years rather than one, is just one idea on how to increase efficiency so the DMV can focus on core services and simplification through more automation.”

Two other DMV-related bills have also been proposed in the state Assembly.

One of them, Assembly Bill 867, would allow motorists to use their credit cards to pay for fees in all field offices. It would also allow motorists to pay their vehicle registration fees in monthly, bimonthly or semiannual installments.

The change would go into effect no later than July 1, 2020, according to the legislation.

DMV offices currently do not accept credit card payments, something that prompted criticism from new Gov. Gavin Newsom when he unveiled his first budget last month.

“We’re going to accept credit cards,” Newsom said in early January, according to the Sacramento Bee. “It’s a governor in 2019 in California saying that we’re going to accept credit cards in 2019 at the Department of Motor Vehicles. That is in the ‘you can’t make that up’ file.”

The legislation was introduced by Northern California Assemblyman Jim Wood on Feb. 20, more than a month after Newsom’s vow to change the policy.

Another bill that was co-authored by Assemblyman Tyler Diep, who represents parts of Orange County, would make it illegal for anyone — a person or a corporation — to sell their DMV appointment.

“This bill will prohibit companies from selling DMV appointments to make a profit,” Diep tweeted after introducing the bill.

Under Assembly Bill 317, which was introduced on Jan. 30, selling a DMV appointment would be punishable by a fine of up to $2,500.

“Government is supposed to treat everyone equally, regardless of how much they can afford to pay,” Diep noted in the tweet.

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