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Questions about the DMV during this shutdown? Here are some answers.

Posted at 5:07 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 17:20:57-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — DMV's all across New York State have been closed since March 21st. The phase in which they will reopen is still unclear, but Erie County's DMV is using an online portal to offer curbside services. These are the answers to some common questions regarding the DMV.

Where can I go to get curbside DMV service?

The DMV will give you an address when they call to make an appointment with you. There's an Emergency Auto Bureau Registration form online for appointments to register a vehicle, transfer a registration, and handle insurance lapses.

"If you're expecting a call from us, please pick up or we're going to have to move onto the next person," Erie County clerk Mickey Kearns said.

In order to prevent any attempts at drive-ups or walk-ins without an appointment, the locations are not available to the public.

So if I fill out the form, am I guaranteed to get a call to get an appointment?

Unfortunately, that's not the case. Not every form will be approved for a curbside appointment. The Erie County DMV has opened two curbside locations to start to offer more services, but it's meant for essential workers and insurance lapses.

"We started with our first responders," Kearns said. "We're now encouraging more people to go and if they do have a registration that needs to be done."

But my registration is expired. If I can't guarantee an appointment, what do I do?

When Governor Cuomo's executive order closed the DMV back in March, all licenses, registrations, and inspections that expired in March 2020 or later were extended indefinitely.

"Under the Governor's exectuive order, your registration or your license renewal is extended until our field offices are back open," Kearns said.

What if it expired before March?

"If your license has expired prior to COVID-19, if it was January or February and you just didn't get around to it, you need to get that done." Kearns said. "If you're going back six months and you never renewed your driver's license, you may have a problem."

The executive order called for an exemption for any expirations starting in March. An expired license two years past its expiration date cannot be renewed; you will have to re-take a driver's test.

So if licenses, registrations, and inspections are all extended, can I drive without liability insurance?

No. Driving without insurance and other insurance lapses are still punishable by law. Those punishments could include a ticket, an arrest, your vehicle being impounded, or the revocation of your registration and license.

"We're not only working with the customer. We're also working with the insurance agent," Kearns said. "We want to work with people. We want to get that transaction done."

Appointments regarding insurance lapses start with the Emergency Auto Bureau Registration form and will be prioritized over registrations and other extensions.

If I get an appointment, how can I pay?

"We do the transaction right then and there. We run it into the field office and bring it back out," Kearns said. "It's very important that you only use a credit card or a check made out to the Erie County Clerk."

The Erie County DMV will not accept cash or debit cards for any curbside services.

What about my seasonal vehicle (Motorcycle, convertible, etc.)?

Because the Emergency Auto Bureau Registration form doesn't guarantee an appointment, if you've dropped off your license plate with the DMV for the winter, there's no guarantee that you can get it back.

"If you're looking to put a convertible on the road, or a sports car, please give priority to those people who have needs," Kearns said. "We'll be starting, probably next week, announcing a plan and a policy where people can go to those locations, pick up those plates, and register them."

The process of getting to a curbside location will remain the same: the vehicle owner will have to fill out an online form. That could be followed by a phone call from the DMV to give an address and set up an appointment.

What if I bought a new car?

"We've continuously been doing dealer work on behalf of many of our car dealers," Kearns said. "If you have a new vehicle, you're going to get that temporary registration at the dealer."

The temporary registration from the dealer will remain valid until the long-term registration arrives in the mail. According to Kearns, that process typically takes one to two weeks.