Next year, nearly 1 million more Hoosiers than is typical are expected to seek renewals of their driver’s licenses, and Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles officials are bracing for the increase.
About 1.5 million credentials — including licenses, identification cards and permits — are set to expire in 2018.
Last year, 611,207 licenses were renewed, said Sarah Bonick, BMV communications director.
In addition to online renewals, suspensions and residents who moved from the state, the BMV estimates about 460,000 more credential transactions will take place at BMV branches than in 2017, Bonick said.
In 2018, the BMV plans to hire more workers at its county-based branches. That will add about $1.5 million to $2 million for staffing. The demand comes after the state shifted to six-year renewal periods in 2006, officials said.
About 1.6 million Hoosiers renewed their licenses in 2012, the first year of the program extending renewal periods to six years.
The surge is expected to increase workloads at the branches, and more drivers will be encouraged to sign up for REAL ID, the voluntary Indiana Department of Homeland Security program aimed at preventing identity theft and providing security at airport checkpoints.
About 30 percent of Hoosiers with state-issued credentials have a REAL ID designation, denoted on a license by a star in the upper right corner.
By October 2020, any Hoosier wanting to board a flight will need the ID; so will drivers entering certain federal buildings, military bases or secure federal facilities such as Camp Atterbury.
“That’s where we feel we have a very large uphill climb between now and October 2020 to get, hopefully, 50 percent of our people signed up. What’s the right number? We don’t know, but we know we need to get it a lot higher than we are,” said BMV Commissioner Peter Lacy.
To obtain a REAL ID, Hoosiers must provide original or certified documents that prove identity, Social Security number and lawful status in the U.S., as well as two documents proving Indiana residency.
“The worst time to bring up Real ID to a customer is when they’re standing in front of us wanting to renew their license,” Lacy said. “Because at that point, they have an expired license, they want a new license and they want to know what’s the least amount I have to do to get a new license.”
In general, IDs and licenses can be renewed up to 12 months before the expiration date, and the BMV is encouraging everyone to get a REAL ID sooner rather than later, Bonick said.
“The BMV wants to do everything we can to education Hoosiers on the importance of getting a REAL ID before October 2020,” Bonick said. “We want to avoid confusion at airports, long waits at our branches and any inconvenience for our customers.”
Hiring additional staff at BMV bureaus is anticipated in part due to the document requirements. As of last week, 1,214 employees worked for the state BMV, with 998 employees in the branches.