Utah vehicle registration postcard reminders are officially back

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SALT LAKE CITY — Those postcard reminders about your expiring vehicle registration are officially coming back less than a year after they were discontinued in favor of a paperless-only option.

The Utah State Tax Commission announced Monday that the first batch of Division of Motor Vehicles' registration renewal notice postcards will be sent this week for Utahns whose vehicle registration expires in May.

Officials added they encouraged anyone who hasn't already to check their physical address records to ensure that postcards are sent to the right address. Postcards will not be sent to anyone who has already and eventually signs up for an email reminder option, which remains the commission's preferred option.

The return of the postcard service is the result of HB170, which helped bring back funding for the postcard service.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Scott Chew, R-Jensen, along with many bipartisan co-sponsors, was created after the outrage and concern caused by the end of the postcard reminder service.

Chew explained during one legislative session hearing that he began working on the bill after a discussion with someone who had mentioned they didn't have access to the internet and didn't want to go to the DMV out of COVID-19 safety concerns.

After looking into the issue further, he realized the postcard service ended because the funding for it was cut during a special session to review the state budget last summer.

The Legislature had asked various agencies, including the Utah State Tax Commission, with ways they could cut spending. The commission, which among other things, oversees the vehicle registration aspect of Utah's DMV service. Its leaders came back to the Legislature and offered some cuts, including the postcard service.

Monte Roberts, Utah's DMV director, told KSL.com just before the postcard service ended in September that switching to email only reminders because they were more efficient, cheaper and cut down on waste tied to postcards. The move was expected to save the state and counties combined about $1 million in overall expenses.

But the move didn't go as cleanly as expected, even with weeks of warning in advance. It also led to issues for residents who don't necessarily have great internet service or regular access to email.

The Legislature approved the cut inside one of the bill passed during the summer.

"We created this mistake," Chew said in February.

Following the concerns brought up and a dropoff in renewals following the end of the postcard program, the state DMV service announced in December it would send out one last postcard reminder. It urged Utah drivers to sign up for the email service.

In the end, it wasn't enough to satisfy lawmakers and HB170 was crafted. The bill, which passed through the Utah House of Representatives and Senate with relative ease required the DMV to "provide a vehicle owner the option to receive notification through mail or email to inform the owner of the expiration of a vehicle's registration."

Cox signed the bill on March 11. The wording of the legislation also stated that it would go into effect as soon as possible if it got enough support, which it did.

Even though postcards are now back, DMV officials on Monday urged Utahns to still consider signing up for the email service if they can. They argued that email notifications include all the important renewable information needed, that follow-up emails are sent if that person forgets to renew and drivers don't have to worry about alerting the DMV if they move.

That's in addition to it saving tax dollars and avoiding the need for paper. Either way, drivers will be warned about an expiring registration through some form of communication.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.


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