Dozens of people waited Wednesday morning outside the DeKalb County tax commissioner’s central office on Memorial Drive. Tag offices across the region saw long lines as they reopened after launching a new state vehicle registration system. (DAVID WICKERT/AJC)

Long lines form for car tag renewals as Georgia reboots system

Ivan Pacheco arrived 40 minutes before the DeKalb County’s central tag office on Memorial Drive opened Wednesday morning.

He waited with dozens of others hoping to renew their registrations after a long holiday weekend — when tag offices across Georgia shut down to switch to the state’s new vehicle registration system. But once the office opened at 8 a.m., the line moved fairly quickly. Pacheco was out the door about 20 minutes later.

“It didn’t take long at all,” Pacheco said.

Long lines could be found at some tag offices across the region this week as the Georgia Department of Revenue and local tax commissioners switched to the new registration system. It replaces a nearly 20-year-old system used to register more than 10 million Georgia vehicles a year.

The state shut down the old system Friday and launched the new one Tuesday. Many counties also resumed service Tuesday, but some — including DeKalb — waited an extra day to ensure the transition would go smoothly.

State and local officials reported some long lines once service resumed. A police officer said the average wait time was about two hours at DeKalb’s north tag office near Brookhaven on Wednesday morning, but it had diminished by the afternoon and was less at other offices.

“There’s definitely lines outside the door,” said Nicole Golden, DeKalb’s chief deputy tax commissioner.

Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Richard Steele said tag offices usually see lines after a holiday weekend. But with offices also closed last Friday, this week’s lines are longer than usual.

“We’ll see increased lines through the rest of the week as we’re moving into the new system,” Steele said.

Officials reported no problems with the system itself and said service would improve as the lines thinned and employees grew accustomed to the new software.

“As we get settled, customers will definitely see a much faster process,” said Georgia Steele, the director of the Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Division.

Most customers won’t notice a difference with the new Georgia Driver Record and Integrated Vehicle Enterprise System, or DRIVES.

Steele said the online registration will be easier to use — for example, customers won’t have to type as much information as they did under the old system. And customers can now pre-apply for a vehicle title online, though they’ll still need to visit a tag office to complete the transaction.

DeKalb’s Golden urged customers to try renewing their tags online or at kiosks set up at participating Kroger stores.

And if they must do business in person?

“We ask people to come with their patience,” she said.

Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at www.ajc.com/politics.

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