Vehicle registrations in Georgia will be shut down for days at the end of May as the state installs new computer software.
When it’s finished, the new system will allow county tag offices to process registrations faster and offer more services online. But the installation will require the state Department of Revenue to shut down all vehicle registrations and related services statewide from May 24 to 27. And services at some county tag offices will be on hold for longer as they prepare for the transition and make sure the bugs are worked out before relaunching services.
The outage will not affect driver’s license renewals, which are handled by the state Department of Driver Services.
Still, hundreds of thousands of state residents whose car tags expire in May and June won’t be able to renew them while the system is offline. State and local officials are urging customers to renew their tags by May 20 to avoid delays.
“If they want to avoid lines, they need to come in sooner, rather than later,” said Nicole Golden, the chief deputy tax commissioner for DeKalb County.
The state Department of Revenue oversees registration for more than 10 million vehicles each year. But much of the work is carried out by county tax commissioners across the state.
The software system they use now is almost 20 years old. State and local officials say the new system — the Georgia Driver Record and Integrated Vehicle Enterprise System (DRIVES) — will make the process more efficient and reduce costs for handling registrations.
“It’s kind of like going from a flip phone to a smartphone,” said Susan McLeod, the communications director for the Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner’s Office.
It also will enhance data integrity and allow more self-service options.
For example, someone buying a car will be able to pre-apply for a title online, then take his or her documentation to a local tag office to complete the transaction. And though many counties already offer online tag renewal, more counties are signing up because of the new system, said Georgia Steele, the director of the Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Division.
The shift to the new system will come Memorial Day weekend. From May 24 to 27, county tag offices statewide will not be able to process transactions. Online motor vehicle services and self-service kiosks will be offline from May 21 to 27.
But some counties are taking extra time to ensure all the bugs are worked out before they resume service. Gwinnett County tag offices, for example, won’t process registrations from May 23 to 27. And DeKalb County offices won’t process registrations from May 23 to 28.
Though DeKalb tag offices usually aren’t open on Saturdays, they’ll be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday May 4 and May 18. Golden said it’s an effort to accommodate a rush of customers trying to renew vehicle tags before the service goes offline.
“We’re expecting a rush. We’re hoping for a rush,” she said. “We’ve done everything we know to publicize what’s going on.”
Steele said it may take time for local offices to get accustomed to the new software, so customers may experience delays for a while when service resumes.
“There’s a big difference using the old system versus a new system,” she said. “If it took three minutes in the old system, it’s probably going to take a couple more (minutes) until they get accustomed to the new tools.”