Despite the state government shutdown, there are still plenty of places around the state where Minnesotans can go for most of their motor-vehicle registration and driver's license renewal needs.
The sites are organized through the Minnesota Deputy Registrar Association, which has more than 150 locations statewide.
Hennepin, the state's most populous county, operates eight locations. "The paperwork and the processing we can start at this level," county spokeswoman Luann Schmaus said Friday, on Day 1 of the shutdown. "The actual plastic license [from the state] may take a while."
Service centers do not administer driver's license tests. Those are only handled by state-run offices, which are closed.
When Hennepin County's service center in downtown Minneapolis opened at 8 a.m. Friday, only three people were at the door. The day before, the center and others had long lines because of fears that a state shutdown would cut off issuance of motor vehicle plates, tabs, titles and registrations, as well as birth and death certificates and marriage licenses.
There was confusion during the week because it wasn't clear that motor vehicle and public health computer systems would be available to county workers until Ramsey District Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled that they were critical.
William Olive of Minneapolis saw the long lines Thursday, and turned around. "It was the longest line I'd ever seen here for anything, and people looked kind of tired and frustrated," Olive said.
He returned Friday morning, hoping that the office would be open. There was no wait, and within minutes he walked away with new license tabs.
"I had no idea what to expect when I came in. I was just hoping it would be open; otherwise I can't drive my car," he said.
Mike Walpole and Kristen Hartz of Richfield were happy that the downtown Minneapolis center was still in business. They picked up a marriage license and left with smiling faces. "It was pretty quick," Walpole said. "We were expecting a line."
Elsewhere, Stearns County's license centers -- located in St. Cloud and Waite Park -- also are up and running. On top of driver and vehicle needs, they are handling passport services and marriage, birth and death certificate transactions.
The city of Roseville's licensing center on Lexington Avenue is chugging right along, state shutdown or not.
"Staff ordered extra supplies and conducted preventive maintenance in anticipation of the shutdown," the city website notes.
To find a license center, visit mndep.com/loca tions.php.
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) licenses, however, cannot be processed by license centers during the shutdown.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482 Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388