Michigan looks to reduce Secretary of State office wait times, partners with AAA, Huntington Bank

Michigan looks to reduce Secretary of State office wait times, partners with AAA, Huntington Bank

From MLive.com

LANSING — Michiganders will be able to renew their driver’s licenses and vehicle plates at certain AAA Michigan offices later this year.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced the partnership this week with the Dearborn-based auto club, which provides insurance and other services for members. It’s the latest in several ventures aimed at reducing wait times at Secretary of State offices.

“We’re trying to connect people to the services in the most convenient way possible,” Johnson said.

By early fall, AAA’s offices in downtown Detroit, Livonia and Grand Rapids will have computers and printers available for customers to visit ExpressSOS.com, where they can renew or replace driver’s licenses and state ID cards, renew license plate tabs, update addresses and take care of other business. Customers can print their receipts as proof until their tabs, license or ID arrives in the mail. Certain transactions must be done at the SOS office, such as updating a license photo.

AAA expects to eventually have the computers set up in all of its 31 locations. AAA is providing the computers and printers at no cost to taxpayers.

“Our more than 1.4 million members look to AAA for guidance and support on automobile-related issues, so it is a natural fit that we partner with Secretary Johnson and open our branch locations to ExpressSOS service,” Randy Williams, AAA Michigan vice president for field operations, said in a statement.

While many residents already can access ExpressSOS.com from home or elsewhere, about one in five Michigan homes don’t have broadband access.

Johnson said she’s also working with Huntington Bank to eventually have computers with ExpressSOS services at bank branches. In the meantime, the bank is sharing its best practices to improve the Secretary of State’s customer service.

The department last year launched a pilot project to install kiosks at two Meijer stores where customers can use the online services, and the state also recommends public libraries as an access point.

The website has handled more than 4.8 million transactions since it launched in 2011, helping to reduce wait times for those who do have to visit the branch offices, Johnson said.

Budget cuts have led the department to cut staff and branches; it now has 131 branches, down from more than 180.

“Our goal is really to get the lines shorter,” Johnson said, noting that some branches have had over three-hour waits. “That’s just not acceptable.”