Since the Motor Registration Division (MRD) discontinued sending renewal reminder notices by mail as of April 30, more than 87,000 MRD customers have registered to receive their renewal reminders by email, according to a statement sent to The Telegram.
Also, web-based vehicle renewals have been upwardly trending for the past two years, the statement notes. In June, 68.7 per cent of all vehicle renewals were completed on the internet as compared to 60.85 per cent in June 2017 and 56.06 per cent in June 2016.
Discontinuing sending the reminders by mail is expected to save approximately $460,000 annually in printing and mailing costs, and eliminate about 10,000 pounds of waste annually.
There’s been chatter on social media driving the issue of drivers forgetting to renew their vehicle registration after MRD discontinued sending renewal reminder notices by mail. It became a sticky issue for some who claim to have been issued tickets or warnings for being pulled over for having expired stickers on their vehicle, simply because they have been accustomed to receiving the renewal notices by mail.
Service NL says, however, it has taken a number of actions to make people aware of the change. These included notices sent to 50,000 clients during the last mail-out in March; posters sent to Government Service Centres and municipal offices throughout the province; news releases; social media shares and regular reminders on Twitter (@ServiceNL_); hotlink on Service NL homepage; notices to all government employees on the government network to sign up and inform family and friends; and notices to government members.
Stakeholders such as seniors’ organizations, Wedgwood Insurance and Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador have also helped get the message out to motorists via re-tweets, emails and other social media channels.
And the RCMP and RNC have been actively sharing MRD tweets.
“Ultimately it is the vehicle owners’ responsibility to ensure it is appropriately registered and legal to drive,” the statement reads. “The date of expiry is printed on the registration sticker and licence. However, as a way to help members of the public remember their renewal date, MRD now offers the option for individuals to align their vehicle’s registration expiry date to their month of birth. This can be completed at any MRD or Government Service Centre office throughout the province at the time of renewal.
“For those with multiple vehicles, MRD also offers the option to align the vehicle expiration dates. This can help individuals remember their renewal date, as well as limit the number of times they need to complete transactions throughout the year.”
Service NL says much of the feedback MRD has received from the public has been positive.
“Email reminders offer a more convenient and modern method for managing vehicle and driver’s licence renewals,” it states. “Upon receipt of the email, clients can conveniently click a link that will take them directly to the appropriate online renewal page where they can conveniently renew their vehicle or driver’s licence instantaneously, at a discounted rate.
“MRD has received some feedback regarding possibilities for enhancing the email reminder service and the online renewal process — to make it even more user-friendly — and is currently working to implement some of these suggestions.”
MRD is also exploring the use of computer kiosks in population centres where there is no MRD office, such as the Advanced Education, Skills and Labour office in Placentia. People without access to the internet can also use the computers at their local library. The option to pay by phone is also being explored.
The fines for driving an unregistered passenger vehicle or light truck range from $200 to $500. Fines increase as high as $1,800 when driving other types of vehicles without valid registration. The fines for driving with an expired or invalid licence range from $300 to $600.
According to MRD statistics, the number of convictions posted in April, May and June 2018 does not demonstrate a measurable increase over the same period in 2017 — less than one per cent.
Comparing convictions stats for April, May and June the convictions have declined over the same period in 2016 and remained relatively stable over last year. For 2016-17 total convictions for this three-month period were 808; for 2017-18, the total was 647; and for 2018-2019, the total was 652.
Email notices are generic and share no personal information. This way, notes Service NL, individuals who are unable to access or use email can sign up using a trusted friend or family member’s email address.
All renewals can be completed online, in person at a Motor Registration Division or Government Service Centre office, or by mail or fax by filling out an application form. If clients are experiencing difficulties with their online payment, they can also call MRD at 1-866-636-6867 for assistance. A discount is offered to those who pay online through the secure payment option.
Comparison of convictions stats for April, May and June for the past three years for operating an unregistered or unlicensed vehicle:
YEAR APR MAY JUN TOTAL
2016-17 259 282 267 808
2017-18 206 217 224 647
2018-19 198 262 192 652