Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is suggesting a New Year’s resolution for Illinois motorists: Ditch the DMV.

The Democrat on Thursday announced expanded online services for the “Skip the Line, Do It Online” program to save taxpayers’ time and reduce historically long queues at driver and motor vehicles services facilities, which Giannoulias shortens to “DMV.” If not via the web, mail and telephone transactions are available.

So, Giannoulias urged, just stay away.


“I’m serious. Don’t come unless you are 100% certain that you need to visit one of our facilities,” Giannoulias said at a Chicago news conference. “The reason is obvious. Most people do not need to go to a DMV facility to get what they need.”

The expansion includes varied services. A website portal now helps customers determine the exact service they need and necessary subsequent steps. When a visit is necessary, appointments can be made online. Now, text messages will follow to remind them and ask them to confirm or cancel. Two separate telephone lines now cater solely to seniors and teens and their questions.

And new facilities have been opened in the Chicagoland area dedicated to specific, time-consuming activities. There are four stations reserved for seniors and their needs and four others set aside for those requiring road tests for license renewal.

“What we’re seeing is people see an expiration date, they get nervous, don’t know what to do, so they just go to a facility,” Giannoulias said. Motorists ages 21 to 78 with clean driving records should have to visit a driver’s facility only once every 12 years, he said.

Since the program launched in September, the secretary of state has taken care of 800,000 motorists by appointment, resulting in little to no wait time, according to Giannoulias. Of 2.25 million drivers needing to renew licenses this year, 1 million can do it online, through the mail or by phone, and the same is true for 10 million vehicle registration renewals.


Last year, more than half of the 1 million people eligible for remote license renewal still dropped by a state facility, and 3 million made special trips to get an annual license plate sticker.

“We want to put an end to this,” Giannoulias said. “Our ultimate goal is to reduce the time tax — that’s the amount of time that Illinoisans waste standing in line or making an unnecessary trip to the DMV to obtain basic government services.”

The addition of text messaging to remind customers of an upcoming appointment and asking them to confirm or cancel answers an unforeseen but “devastating” problem that resulted from online appointments: no-shows. There are people who make multiple appointments and keep one but do not cancel the others. Customers failed to keep as many as 40% of the appointments they made, creating new headaches for secretary of state employees.

A text will alert customers to appointments they didn’t intend to keep, so they can cancel while confirming the ones they do want, Giannoulias said.

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