Most state-run Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) offices closed during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, and that has created angst for thousands of drivers whose licenses have expired in recent weeks — or will soon.
Take a deep breath and relax; services are resuming this week. But there is no need to rush to the nearest deputy registrar’s office. Licenses and ID cards that have expired since Gov. Tim Walz issued a peacetime emergency March 13 are still valid. Expiration dates for any license or ID that lapses during the peacetime emergency will be extended for two months after the month in which the peacetime emergency ends, said Bruce Gordon of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Not to be confused with the governor’s Stay Safe Minnesota order, which restricts mobility and social gatherings, a peacetime emergency gives the governor power to close schools, enlist the National Guard and extend driver’s licenses. Walz last week extended the peacetime emergency until June 12. That means licenses that have expired or will before June 12 remain valid until September.
Drive reader Bob from Eden Prairie wondered if that applies to disability parking permits. His expired April 30.
“These are included in the legislation that extended driver’s licenses and ID cards,” said Megan Leonard, a DVS spokeswoman.
Some deputy registrars authorized to do business for the state are reopening, and that’s good news for the more than 110,260 drivers whose licenses or permits expired between March 13 and May 5, the DVS said.
Earlier this month, the Quick-Serv License Center in South St. Paul started “curbside” service. Customers waited outside while an employee took their paperwork inside, processed it and brought it back.
“It’s not as easy as walking to the counter, but it’s a creative way to help the community,” said general manager Kristy Beaucage.
Most customers have renewed license tabs or vehicle transfer titles, but Quick-Serv can issue duplicate licenses and extend disability parking tags, Beaucage said.
With the state allowing small businesses to open under specific guidelines, Quick-Serv on Monday will begin letting customers into the building one at a time by appointment. Customers will be able to conduct transactions requiring an eye exam or photo, meaning they can renew a driver’s license or apply for a Real ID.
The center has installed plexiglass at the counter to separate customers from employees, who will wear gloves and masks. Eye exam machines will be cleaned after each test, Beaucage said. She hopes appointments will offer a better DVS experience.
“People know it can be frustrating,” Beaucage said. “We have to mitigate people standing in line and not wasting an hour. They can come and go.”
On Monday, the Roseville License Center also will resume in-person processing of driver’s license applications, motor vehicle transactions and DNR fish and game applications by appointment.
AAA Minneapolis isn’t there yet, but the drive-up window where “you can do everything except IDs” will be open, said spokeswoman Meredith Terpstra. AAA hopes to offer a combination of walk-ups and appointments soon.
DVS lists offices and deputy registrars on its website. Drivers should call before visiting since available services vary by location, Leonard said.
Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.