LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson has introduced legislation as part of a 3-bill package to extend the expiration date of Michigan driver’s licenses and personal identification cards, while calling on Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to reopen branch offices for same-day services.
“People should not be getting $200 tickets for expired plates or licenses because the current Secretary of State’s Office can’t get their act together,” said Johnson, R-Holly, who also previously served as secretary of state until 2019. “They need to open their branches, turn the MI-TIME Line system back on, and restore options to customers.”
Johnson said the plan to permanently close same-day, walk-in services and move to an appointment-only system has had real-life consequences for Michigan families. The fines for driving on an expired license or registration often exceed $200. While some law enforcement officers are aware of the secretary of state issues and have shown leniency, many residents still face tickets.
“This is on government and specifically the secretary of state,” Johnson said. “If citizens are unable to do what they need to do in a timely manner, we should not be penalizing them. These bills will hold Michigan residents harmless if they can’t get their renewals done on time because of Secretary Benson’s refusal to reopen offices to serve customers.”
While a range of transactions can be completed online or by mail, many still need to be done in-person at a branch office. These include getting a new driver’s license or state ID, renewing a license or ID when a new photo or eye test is needed, or when paying cash for services when customers do not have a credit card or checking account. Currently, it can take months to get an appointment.
“We had appointments when I was secretary of state too,” said Johnson. “But when people are waiting three to five months to get one, that cannot be the only option.”
Johnson’s bill, Senate Bill 508, would extend the expiration of enhanced licenses and state ID cards until Sept. 30. The move would be retroactive to April 1. SB 507 would make the same extension to driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations, and SB 509 would apply the extension to standard state ID cards.
Under SBs 507 and 508, late fees would be waived until branch offices offer at least 25 hours per week of same-day, walk-in services with no appointment required. SB 507 would also stop the secretary of state from collecting certain service fees until SOS branch offices meet the 25-hour weekly requirement.