Celebrate freedom from DMV lines by using the 'Net

Tom Jacobs has been the lead public information officer for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles since 2002. In that capacity, he reports directly to Ginny Lewis, director of DMV.

A graduate of California State University, Long Beach, and a master sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard, Jacobs has been a professional public affairs-public information officer for more than 20 years.

There have been a lot of changes in how DMV does business in recent years. What is the purpose behind those changes?

We're finding ways for people to do business with us without them having to go to an office. In the last six years, we've experienced an increase in customers of about 20 percent without a corresponding increase in staff. Yet we've managed to cut wait times from that year about 40 percent. We're using technology, that is how we're doing it. The first real big thing was our Internet, which we rolled out in 2000.

What services are available online?

At dmvnv.com, you can renew your registration. You can estimate what your registration fee is going to be. You can search for availability of personalized plates, get your vehicle tax history, reinstate lapsed insurance, renew your driver's license. You can print out your driver history.

But the Internet isn't the only way. You can also register your vehicle at some emissions stations (when getting a smog check). There are 16 locations in Clark County and 11 in Washoe where you can do that.

What's not available online?

(For) some transactions, you still have to go to an office. If you buy a car, whether it's a new car or simply new to you, you're going to have to come to a DMV office. Changing titles, those kinds of things. And every eight years, you have to show up to renew your driver's license.

You can only renew your driver's license by Internet every other time because a new picture and eye exam are required.

What new services are coming online?

We are working on a system that will allow dealers to report their sales to us electronically, which would be similar to how smog checks work in Washoe and Clark counties now. That will mean you can actually use the Internet to register a new car.

But that's down the road. It's not available yet.

Is the Internet getting a lot of use?

About 20 percent of the people eligible to renew their vehicles online do so. And about 16 percent of those eligible to renew their driver's license online do so.

When you start lumping in all the transactions that occur through alternative technology, Internet, emission station renewals, kiosks, they're equal to the volume at a metropolitan office so it's saving money.

How about the kiosks: What can people do there?

They can do vehicle registration renewals, renew a driver's license, reinstate insurance. They are probably our newest and greatest thing because it's the only system in the nation that takes cash, gives change, uses credit cards, and dispenses documents on the spot. The average transaction time is about three minutes.

What's particularly innovative about the kiosks is there are two at our Decatur office in Southern Nevada that are available 24 hours, seven days a week. They are embedded in the outside of the building much like an ATM. There are also kiosks in two AAA offices in Las Vegas.

We're looking at expanding that not only with AAA but other private-public partnerships. There will come a day when you can go to a grocery store and use your bank ATM to withdraw money, then take three steps sideways and renew your vehicle registration with those dollars.

To date, in June, there have been 18,904 vehicle registration renewals and 322 driver's license renewals at kiosks.


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