Whitmer OKs extending expiration date for driver's licenses, registrations

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Gretchen  Whitmer signed a package of three bills Thursday that would effectively extend the expiration dates of driver's licenses, state ID cards and vehicle registrations amid long wait times at secretary of state's offices spurred by the pandemic.

The bills generally add 120 days to the termination dates if they occurred from March 31 through Aug. 1. Also, the secretary of state's office couldn't charge a late fee for a document that expired during the time frames.

"The pandemic was tough on all of us, and these bills put Michigan drivers first by giving Michiganders the flexibility they need to renew their drivers license and IDs,” Whitmer said in a statement. "It is crucial that we continue to offer services at our secretary of state that fit the needs of all residents as we move forward."

A vehicle in Lansing, Michigan, features a plate that says "tag applied for" on June 11, 2021.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a fellow Democrat, also touted the extension.

"All our offices are open to any residents who need in-person services, which they can access by walking up or scheduling their visits online or by phone," Benson said.

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate approved the legislation in June while GOP lawmakers and Benson clashed over wait times and her decision to move Michigan's 131 branch offices to an appointment-only system.

Sen. Kevin Daley, R-Lum, one of the sponsors of the bills, argued that people shouldn't have to wait several months for "what should be a 30-minute appointment."

"People should not be getting tickets from the same government that is preventing them from completing the process to avoid the ticket," Daley said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted in-person services at the offices, lawmakers had previously set the expiration date at March 31, 2021.