Illinois gets $1.2M windfall in late fees after failing to send vehicle-registration reminders

Illinois gets $1.2M windfall in late fees after failing to send vehicle-registration reminders

Budget gridlock in Springfield caused the Illinois secretary of state’s office to suspend mailing vehicle-registration-renewal reminders in October 2015.

Due to the Illinois secretary of state’s suspension of mailing license-plate-renewal reminders as of October 2015, the state of Illinois has received a $1.2 million windfall in fees for late license-plate renewals during the first two months of 2016, according to the Associated Press. From Jan. 1, 2016 through Feb. 22, 2016, Illinois vehicle owners paid $2.7 million in fees for renewing their license plates late, up from $1.5 million during the same period in 2015. More than 136,000 motorists received fines for late vehicle-registration renewal in the first two months of 2016, compared with 63,000 people in January and February 2015.

The secretary of state’s office stopped mailing renewal reminders in an effort to save $450,000 per month amid the state’s budget crisis. But some Illinois lawmakers are concerned that, given the sudden stoppage of mailed reminders, it’s unfair to slap vehicle owners with $20 late fees. Illinois state Rep. Jaime Andrade, D-Chicago, is sponsoring legislation to suspend the $20 fine for late license-plate renewal, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Currently, Illinoisans who renew their vehicle registrations late are subject to a fee of $20 in addition to the $101 renewal fee, and anyone driving with expired registration risks traffic tickets as well.

Drivers who do not sign up for email notification will need to renew their registrations in person, as they will not have the necessary personal identification numbers for online renewal. (Illinois vehicle owners can sign up online for email reminders of registration-renewal deadlines.)

Illinois is in its eighth month without a budget, and its unpaid bills total over $7.2 billion.

Although switching to electronic reminders to save money is not a bad idea, the abrupt stoppage of mailed vehicle-registration-renewal notices necessitated by the budget stalemate has subjected tens of thousands of Illinoisans to unnecessary fines and fees. Legislative measures to suspend late fees may be necessary under the circumstances, but the real solution is for Illinois lawmakers to pass a budget the state can afford.

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