GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 4, 2013

RMV drops electronic renewal reminders

By Ethan Forman
Staff Writer

---- — It might be wise to check your driver’s license, because the Registry of Motor Vehicles has suspended its electronic renewal reminder service.

While going through reports from the last week, Danvers police crime analyst Sarah Slavin noticed a woman who was cited for driving with an expired license had told officers she was not aware it had expired.

Slavin went to post a link to the Registry’s email renewal reminder service on the department’s Facebook page, but found the service was no longer available.

“We apologize for the inconvenience, the RMV Reminder Service is no longer available. Please contact us with any questions about the service,” according to the Registry’s website. The “contact us” link leads to the RMV’s “contact/feedback” page.

“The company providing the service free of charge has been sold,” said Michael Verseckes, a Registry spokesman. “The RMV is in negotiations to determine if this new company will continue the reminder service. At the same time, the RMV is exploring other possible alternatives for offering a reminder service.”

Verseckes could not immediately provide information last week about when the electronic renewal reminder service stopped, when it might be up and running again, and how many license holders had subscribed.

It’s not clear if the lack of an email notification is leading to more drivers operating with expired licenses. Danvers police have, so far this year, cited four motorists for driving without a license, about the same as the first two months of 2012. In addition, the department’s criminal motor-vehicle offense records do not distinguish between someone driving with an expired license and someone driving without a license. It’s the same thing, under the law.

Slavin said she personally signed up for the online license renewal reminder, but she does not recall receiving an email that the service had been suspended.

In 2008, the Registry eliminated courtesy mailings in an effort to save money at a time of looming budget constraints. The Registry introduced a new electronic renewal notification service the following year.

According to a 2009 press release on the RMV website, the subscription service would expand license renewal notifications via phone, text and emails at no cost to taxpayers. The service would be free, because the state was partnering with a Marlborough electronic messaging firm called Sendza Inc., with reminders sponsored by Massachusetts businesses.

A call to the number listed on Sendza’s website was not in service.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, or by email at eforman@gloucesterties.com.