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As our state continues to work its way through the second phase of the "Show Me Strong Recovery Plan," many members of our community have contacted my office regarding their experiences at local license offices.

Many have voiced concerns about long wait times as they attempt to renew their driver's license or perform other license-related tasks at their local Department of Motor Vehicles. It's important to remember at the peak of the state's stay-at-home order, almost all of the state's contract license offices were closed. According to the Department of Revenue, approximately 140 of the 173 contract license offices were closed due to COVID-19 this past spring.

In response to the pandemic, DOR issued a series of extensions and waivers regarding tax, motor vehicle and driver's licensing to ease customer concerns, encourage social distancing and alleviate congestion in license offices. While I believe these extensions and waivers were necessary to help Missourians affected by the pandemic, it has unfortunately resulted in an influx of customers to license offices throughout the state.

In response, DOR has instituted several changes to help alleviate long wait times, while also increasing its focus on online and mail-in renewal transactions to help as many Missourians as possible. Below are some of the actions taken by DOR to help improve customer interactions with the department.

Refocus efforts to efficiently process the 300 percent increase in online vehicle registration renewals, as well as the 28 percent increase in mailed vehicle titling and registration applications.

Waive certain CDL requirements and offer mail-in driver's license renewal services to CDL holders.

Beginning July 31, DOR will automatically renew and mail Permanent Disabled Placards for 208,000 eligible Missourians.

Establish temporary license offices to meet the increased motor vehicle and driver's license needs of Missourians. These temporary offices will be located in areas with the highest transaction volumes.

Implement a temporary phone center in Jefferson City to allow residents to renew vehicle registrations over the phone.

Update DOR's 24/7 virtual assistant, DORA, to include important information regarding COVID-19 and license office availability.

I am encouraged by these efforts, and I believe DOR is doing everything it can to improve the services it provides to all Missourians. As our state moves forward, it is important to remember some license offices may continue to be under local orders that restrict the number of individuals allowed in an office at one time. Before you visit your local license office, please call ahead to make sure they are open and able to assist you. For a full list of available online DOR services, please visit its website at dor.mo.gov. If you have any issues with a license office in our community, please reach out to my staff and tell us about your experience. We will do everything we can to help you during these uncertain times.

It is an honor to be your state senator, and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at 573-751-2757 or visit my web page at senate.mo.gov/riddle.

Missouri Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, represents state senate District 10, which includes Callaway County.

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