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The Michigan Secretary of State is waiving late fees and limiting all in-person branch visits to appointment-only, effective immediately, for “critical” services for the next three weeks amid the expanding new coronavirus pandemic, Secretary Jocelyn Benson said Friday.

New appointments are limited to obtaining a new driver's license or state ID, title transfers or testing for other licenses including commercial vehicles, chauffeurs, mechanics, motorcycles and recreational vehicles. The limitations will be in place through April 6.

The new rules come as states across the nation implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has banned gatherings of 250 people or more. Starting Monday, grade schools will be closed until April 5, while state universities have canceled in-person classes in favor of online lessons.

"The goal is to eliminate any potential crowding in our offices and thereby support the work of Gov. Whitmer and her administration to protect the health of all state employees in Michigan," Benson said.

Knowing appointments are likely to fill up, the Secretary of State is waiving late fees for all businesses during the period. The department also has contacted state police to pass on the message to local stations in cases of expired licenses and vehicle registrations.

Secretary of State branches are expanding their weekday hours and continue to offer same-day appointments, but all will be closed on Saturdays during this time period. The new schedule is as follows:

  • Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday
  • Closed Saturday and Sunday

"As this is a unique time in our community," Benson said, "we are asking people with existing appointments for non-critical services that do not have to be completed in the next three weeks to consider canceling them and making them for later in order to free up appointments available to people who need them in these next three weeks."

The department will continue to provide services online, by mail and at its new self-service stations in its branch offices and some Kroger and Meijer locations.  A requirement to show proof of insurance that often restricts someone from being able to renew their driver's license online also has been lifted.

"We will also explore options to provide more services virtually," Benson said, "in preparation for the possibility that we may need to implement even more limited access to branch offices in the future."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

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