INDIANAPOLIS | If your Indiana driver's license or state identification card expires this year — and it probably does — the Bureau of Motor Vehicles wants you to renew it as soon as possible.
The credentials of approximately 2.2 million Hoosiers are slated to expire this year. That's more than eight times the 260,000 renewals that were due in 2011.
BMV Commissioner Scott Waddell said most Hoosiers can renew their credentials online at mybmv.com and don't need to visit a license branch.
"Renew early and renew online," Waddell said.
The huge uptick in renewals is because of the 2005 federal REAL ID Act, which requires Americans to submit additional citizenship and residency paperwork to obtain a driver's license or state ID card.
REAL ID standards take effect in 2013, so the BMV set licenses and IDs issued in 2007 and 2008 to expire in 2012, a year or two sooner than the usual six-year term.
State law permits Hoosiers to renew their license or ID up to a year before its expiration date. Waddell said renewing as soon as possible, especially online, will help prevent long lines at license branches.
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Wait times at Indiana license branches are among the shortest in the nation, but Waddell said he expects they will increase if Hoosiers wait until the last minute to renew.
"It is our desire to maintain those visit times, but it will be a challenge," Waddell said. "We've worked hard and diligently internally to improve the processes to make sure it is going to be as efficient as possible when someone comes in to transact a credential."
There was almost an even split last year between in-person and online BMV service.
License branches handled 56 percent of transactions while 44 percent were processed online, including 70 percent of license plate renewals.
As recently as 2007, nearly all transactions were conducted at a license branch, with only 15 percent processed online.
Waddell said the shift to online services saves money and "allows our branch staff to focus more on the complex transactions that require face-to-face interaction to get accomplished."
The bureau's 95.2 percent customer satisfaction rating is proof that Hoosiers like having multiple service options, Waddell said.