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New Jersey Lawmakers Poised to Allow Longer Vehicle Registrations

New Jerseyans wearied by annual vehicle registration renewals may soon get a reprieve.

The Senate Transportation Committee will consider a bill that would allow residents to register their cars for between one and 10 years Thursday in an effort to cut the agency’s costs and motorists’ headaches.

Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), the bill’s prime sponsor, noted that for every vehicle registration in the state, the Motor Vehicle Commission must “mail s— out” to motorists.

“People have to have it not get lost in the mail, have to remember to fill it out, have to mail it back and hope it doesn’t get lost in the mail again,” O’Scanlon said.

Though registrations for new cars and leased cars can last up to four years, all others last only a single year. By mailing registration renewal forms less frequently, the agency would save money on postage and paper while also reducing the agency’s workload, O’Scanlon said.

The new registration lengths set by the bill would be available only for passenger vehicles and would bear the cost of a registration for each of those years, though drivers could transfer their registration to a new vehicle during that time. The bill would not affect existing registrations.

The bill leaves registration fees untouched. O’Scanlon said discounts could come in the future if extending the length of registrations leads to cost savings at the Motor Vehicle Commission but cautioned it would be unwise to tweak fee levels until the bill’s impact came into sharper relief.

“That money’s been obligated. The MVC, it’s part of their long-term budgeting, so for now I’m doing this,” he said. “In the future, would I like to see those fees cut out? I absolutely would, but you get into a whole new level of complication when you’re slashing revenues to the MVC, so we didn’t go there.”

Though the state fills part of the Motor Vehicle Commission’s budget, such funding typically accounts for less than 10% of the agency’s funding. The overwhelming bulk of its budget is funded by fees charged on its services, like registration renewals.

The bill’s main goal, at least at this stage, is to reduce hassle for drivers and make it less likely that motorists end up driving unregistered vehicles due to errors at the post office or car dealerships.

“We all know someone or have personally had the experience — and I have personally had it. I had a leased car some years ago where the leasing company got the notice, didn’t forward it to me, and I was driving an unregistered car,” O’Scanlon said. “A cop pulled me over and towed my car.”

The bill does not yet have a companion in the Assembly, though O’Scanlon said legislators are working to introduce one.

Source: New Jersey Monitor