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August 2013

Rhode Island partners with NIC to offer online license renewaL.

The Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles partnered with Rhode Island Interactive (RII)—a division of online government solutions company NIC—to provide online driver’s license renewal in May 2012. Little did they know this online offering would be so popular: In May 2013 alone, 3,500 residents renewed online.

The online license renewal program was the brainchild and campaign promise of Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee, according to Anthony J. Silva, DMV administrator and associate director of revenue services. RII and the state of Rhode Island then collaborated to make the vision a reality. Silva says the online renewal service has been a lifesaver.

“The program is extremely user-friendly and it’s offered to Rhode Island residents 24 hours [a day], 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” says Silva. “It’s like the DMV never closes, and I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s almost like having a DMV in your home.”

The online renewal process is simple. Residents visit ri.gov, provide their license number, last name, date of birth, zip code and several attestations, such as medical, insurance and vision. After paying the fee ($33.50 online versus $31.50 in person), residents receive their new license in the mail within two months, though it usually only takes about two weeks. Until they receive the new license, they carry a receipt that proves they renewed online.

Residents are allowed to renew online every other five-year period, as a new photo needs to be taken every 10 years. Those aged 75 and older can renew online every other two-year period.

Nicole Scaramuzzi Courtemanche, director of marketing for RII, points out that the online renewal process doesn’t change the workflow of the DMV, but rather mimics it.

Courtemanche also says that while the online renewal process primarily services citizens of Rhode Island, it also benefits DMV workers. When citizens need to go to the DMV for an in-person matter, the process is much more streamlined. “Now, the lines are way down, making the agency staff more efficient [about completing] requests that need to be done in person,” says Courtemanche.

Silva agrees: “Like any DMV in any other state, our DMV is very busy. We never have a slow day. If we can provide services to our customers online, our employees can then better focus on those transactions that need to be completed at a local branch.”

Online license renewal is just one of nine motor vehicle services offered on ri.gov, including vanity plate reservation, registration renewal, access to driver records and more. Courtemanche anticipates that more online driving services will become available in upcoming years.