The state’s new computer system designed to process vehicle licenses and registrations is up and running, and by all accounts things were off to a good start this week.
Agents from across Minnesota handled more than 21,600 transactions on Monday, the first day the MNDrive system went live. No major hiccups were reported as customers conducted business both in person and online, said Megan Leonard, a spokeswoman with the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS).
“The launch is off to a smooth start overall,” she said.
MNDrive replaces MNLARS, the troubled vehicle licensing and registration system on which the state spent more than $100 million before abandoning it. The Legislature directed the Department of Public Safety and the state’s IT department to replace MNLARS by the end of 2020.
MNDrive is being used at 15 exam stations, deputy registrar offices and driver’s license agent offices across the state. Most offices were closed last week to allow for the switch-over and to train personnel on how to enter customer information.
Officials warned Monday that in-person transactions might take longer than usual as offices caught up on the backlog and clerks became used to MNDRIVE.
“The Burnsville License Center is operating under a new computer system. Wait times may become lengthy,” the office’s voice message said. “We encourage you to make an appointment for driver’s license or title transfers.”
But that was not the case in most places Monday, Leonard said. The average wait time statewide for title registrations was 13 minutes. New driver’s license applications were taking about nine minutes to process, and services such as tab renewals were taking no more than five minutes, she said.
Staffers at the Roseville License Center on Tuesday were trying to get more familiar with the system while tackling difficult transactions, such as ordering and transferring personalized license plates.
“In MNLARS, we could not even do that,” manager Pam Ryan Senden said. “There are growing pains as we learn where to click and find information, but it is working. This is better than [MNLARS].”
Many Minnesotans skipped the trip to DVS offices Monday and instead logged on to drive.mn.gov, where they filed 4,858 vehicle registration renewals, 2,536 applications for driver’s licenses and 1,515 renewals.
MNDrive is designed to process transactions “smoothly and efficiently,” state officials said, and has features MNLARS did not.
For instance, MNDrive automatically calculates registration taxes and fees to ensure that drivers are paying the correct amount. It also allows users to upload and submit documents required for some transactions online, eliminating the need to visit an office.
The system allows auto dealers to print a special 21-day license plate on-site, eliminating the need for drivers to display a temporary paper permit in the back window. Auto dealers submitted 850 title and temporary permit applications on Monday, DVS said.
Roseville staffers had completed every transaction so far this week, Ryan Senden said. When help was needed, DVS was there to provide coaching through live chat, a phone call or an e-mail, she said.
“I’m optimistic. This has a different feel than three years ago,” when MNLARS launched, she said. MNDrive “will work for everybody — residents, for us, the state, law enforcement. I could not say that about MNLARS.”