CINCINNATI — Need to visit the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles this week? Expect long lines.
The reason: a rush to renew tags and licenses that expired during the pandemic.
We are not just talking about a few thousand drivers. More than 300,000 Ohioans are still driving on expired tags that were given a grace period over the past year.
But on July 1, driving on an expired tag/plate or with an expired license becomes illegal again.
As a result, lines began getting long at BMV offices around Ohio last week and are expected to get worse the next few days, as drivers rush to get renewed.
We found Sheree Jackson waiting outside the Red Bank BMV office in Fairfax, like so many other people facing the July 1 deadline.
"I had one of the expired ones," she said of her car's license plate.
Jackson tried renewing her tags last summer but said it was difficult getting into the office when they initially reopened.
"The line had been so long, because people were sitting in their cars to get in the line," she said.
So she took the state up on its grace period.
But starting July 1, if that little sticker is not up to date, you will get a ticket. And police will be looking.
Charlie Norman, head Registrar at the Ohio BMV, told WCPO, "Starting July 2, they will be subject to criminal penalties, so the last thing we want to see is them get pulled over and get a ticket."
He said that as of Friday:
- An expired plate will net you a $250 fine.
- An expired license can cost you as much as $1,000.
Norman says more than a quarter-million Ohioans are about to be overdue.
"There are about 320,000 individuals who have taken advantage of that extension who have not yet come in to renew."
Sheree Jackson is glad she came in. "Needed to get it done," she said.
What you can do to avoid long lines
Realize that lines will be long all week at Ohio BMV offices because of this.
If you have to go this week, your best bet may be joining the virtual queue online, which alerts you when to show up.
If you don't need a license or tags urgently, you might want to wait another week.
And of course, if your plates don't expire for another couple of months, renewal by mail or online is always the easiest option. (Note that driver's licenses must be renewed in person.)
That way, you don't waste your money.
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