So You Need to Renew Your Driver’s License …


Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois Secretary of State offices in Chicago saw long lines as people sought Real ID licenses ahead of a fall deadline.

That deadline has been pushed back – anyone planning to board a plane now has until October 2021 to get the new ID card (though a passport will do the trick, too).

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Illinois has likewise pushed back its deadlines: Expiration dates for driver’s licenses and IDs have been extended through Nov. 1 of this year. Valid driver’s licenses held by older adults ages 75 and up have one year past the current 2020 expiration date to renew their licenses.

But with Secretary of State facilities having been closed due to the coronavirus, Jesse White’s office is anticipating potentially long queues again as they’re reopening.

In what White’s office has described as a “proactive approach that will save customers time,” applicants for REAL IDs, driver’s licenses and identification cards can now preregister online.

Filling out information like change in weight or hair color, organ donation designation and change of address in advance of going to a DMV facility means a clerk won’t have to manually enter the data.

An individual has to print a receipt that has a barcode, and bring it along when they go to a driver’s license facility where it will be scanned.

“This is a forward-thinking program using technology to reduce wait times at the counter and speed up transactions at Driver Services facilities,” White said in a statement.

The preregistration is available to customers whose licenses have been expired (though not for more than a year) but not to those whose licenses have been suspended or revoked.

Illinoisans can already renew vehicle registration stickers online; White’s office in mid-May reported a 65% uptick in online vs. in-person renewals since its offices closed in mid-March.

Through July, Driver Services facilities are only serving new drivers, the 700,000 residents with expired licenses and the 1.9 million drivers with expired vehicle registrations.

Customers and employees are required to wear face masks, and Plexiglass will serve as a barrier at counters.

During driving tests, both parties are required to keep their noses and mouths covered barring a medical exemption, and disposable plastic has to cover seats.

In the Chicago metropolitan area, drivers may not be able to renew a license without first passing a vehicle emissions test.

Environmental Protection Agency emissions testing sites that had been closed due to COVID-19 reopened June 1.

As a precaution against the spread of the virus, only one person per vehicle is allowed, masks must be worn and pets are not permitted.

“In order to reduce traffic volume and motorist wait time at testing locations, Illinois EPA is recommending motorists with a March or earlier vehicle registration expiration date have their vehicles tested in the month of June,” an EPA advisory said. “With the extension of vehicle expiration dates, motorists who are not comfortable visiting an Air Team testing location at this time may have testing completed at a later date, or may have someone else bring the vehicle in for emissions testing.”

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

Note: This story was originally published June 14, 2020. It has been updated.


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