MOUNT VERNON — Figures released Wednesday by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles show that 329,000 people have been hit with a new late fee since it became effective in October.
“This fee was in no way meant to be a trick or to catch Ohioans off guard,” said BMV public information officer Lindsey Bohrer. “The BMV has done everything fiscally possible to inform the citizens of Ohio of the repercussions of being late.”
The $20 fee is levied against those who fail to renew their license and registration by their birthdays. Bohrer said there is a common misconception that Ohioans have until the end of their birth month to renew.
“This has not been the case for nearly 20 years,” Bohrer said, explaining that leased and commercial vehicles are generally the only ones treated that way now.
She added that if a person gets pulled over with expired tags, they can be cited for driving illegally and given a hefty fine.
There is a grace period of seven days for the $20 fine, Bohrer said, but she pointed out that the grace period does not extend to the legality of driving on an expired license or registration.
The genesis of the fee goes back to the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s 2004-05 biennial budget, which was facing a deficit due to the phase-out of a gasoline tax which had supported the OSHP. The Ohio Legislature established an Ohio State Highway Patrol Funding Task Force, which recommended a $10 late fee and a slight increase in registration fees. The Legislature changed the recommendations around, resulting in a need to raise the late fee to $20 so as to bring in the same approximate amount of revenue.
Bohrer said the BMV began notifying patrons on July 1, 2009, of the coming changes. Since then, additional press releases, Web site announcements, posters and more have been done in order to inform the public about the change.
Bohrer said approximately $6.4 million has been raised for the OSHP between October and December 2009.