COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Long lines greeted last-minute customers at Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) offices Thursday as drivers clamored to meet the deadline to renew licenses and registrations that expired during the pandemic.

“I can tell you some states got no extension at all. Just anecdotally, that July 1st extension was probably among the most generous in the nation,” said Charlie Norman, the State Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

The COVID-19 health crisis forced BMV offices to temporarily close in Spring of 2020. When BMVs reopened at the end of May 2020, the state granted several extensions to allow enough time for the backlog of expired drivers licenses and registrations.

Since then, Norman explained, the state offices have processed 15 million customers at its counters. As of Monday, more than 100,000 drivers licenses and 220,000 registrations still needed to be renewed before the Wednesday deadline.

“It’s been expired since my 21st birthday in April,” Bella Busch said of her drivers license. “I just had school, was finishing up that, working, being lazy I guess.”

She said she had been waiting for more than an hour when she talked to NBC4 Thursday morning. Others were waiting twice as long.

“It’s the BMV. It moves at its own pace,” laughed DShawn Ray, who was waiting to get the registration for his new car.

Starting at midnight on Friday, law enforcement will resume writing tickets and issuing fines for drivers with expired licenses, tags and registrations. Fines can be up to $150.

“I don’t want to get a silly ticket, so I’ll wait, do my time — literally do my time — and go get my tags,” said Evan Matthews.

Those with an expiration date on their driver license, ID, or vehicle registration of March 9, 2020 and after, need to renew by the end of the business day Thursday, July 1.
Norman recommends taking advantage of online tools, like the BMV’s virtual queuing system “Get in Line, Online.” Customers can find a number of other online services through BMV Online Services and the Ohio BMV’s website.