Bureaucracy of the DMV

People often complain about governmental bureaucracy, many times directing it at the federal government, which most people expect to have plenty of red tape. But a trip for a West Virginia Vehicle Registration renewal will give one a taste of that dilemma here in Parkersburg.

Many law-abiding folks graciously renew their vehicle registrations every year or two. And when they go over the “important checklist” listed on the top of their renewal application, one important item is glaringly left off! Item one on the checklist asks if you have “completed and signed statement of insurance on reverse side of renewal application or included a current insurance certificate for the vehicle being renewed?”

As one might guess that the little word “or” becomes very big in this transaction. The directions clearly give the respondent the choice of either filling in the insurance information or including a current insurance certificate for the vehicle being renewed. Nowhere does it clearly state that both conditions must be met.

Now for a person driving the vehicle for which the registration is being renewed, merely opening the glove compartment will probably solve the problem. But if one is renewing a registration for another type of vehicle this becomes a healthy dose of DMV/Wood County sheriff bureaucracy. Apparently they have the right to change the registration renewal process without the approval of the Legislature and without informing the general public. This means the owner will need to make a return trip to complete the transaction, a trip that could have been avoided if the real rules were being followed.

Even more thought provoking is the case for those that mail in their renewal form. How on earth would they know that they needed to request a duplicate insurance certificate from their agent and include it with their registration renewal submittal? They wouldn’t until they found a) the people in the main DMV office adhere to the prescribed rule and return a new registration or b) they received a confusing letter, delaying their renewal and making them submit more information.

Luckily most people already set aside three times as much time as should be necessary to conduct normal business when dealing with the DMV due to the warnings of other folks who have endured the process, but unfortunately their way of doing business appears to be as contagious as a runny nose on a cold Mid-Ohio Valley February day and consequently filtering into other local services.

Jeff Fox