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Bipartisan Support For Law Streamlining BMV Registration and Fees

Indiana BMV

Legislation that drastically simplifies the Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ complex registration and fee system will likely advance with strong bipartisan support through the General Assembly.

Under current law, there are 191 ways to register a vehicle in Indiana.  The proposed BMV overhaul bill would reduce that to 23.  About 2.1 million Hoosiers would see their fees decrease.  163 registration fees would be reduced or eliminated; the BMV’s fee chart would go from about five pages to one simple page.  And only eight fees would increase – seven affecting for-hire buses, the other for large semis.  BMV General Counsel Adam Krupp says the simplification will help ensure the agency doesn’t undergo another series of under and overcharges.

“So it’ll eliminate the confusing nature of what a fee might for a particular transaction.  It’ll say right there in front of you, ‘You’re eligible for this, here’s the application requirements, here’s the fee that gets charged’,” he says.

One of the provisions would also address controversial “convenience fees,” which are charged by outside, third-party vendors that process registration and titling. 

Car buyers often don’t realize they’re being charged more than what they would at a BMV office.  The proposed BMV legislation caps the fees at 150 percent of the BMV fee – so for title work, for which the BMV charges $15.00, vendors could charge an additional $21.50 cent convenience fee. 

For registration, vendors could charge a roughly $32.00 convenience fee on top of the BMV’s $21.35 fee.

Indianapolis Democratic Representative Dan Forestal, one of the convenience fees’ harshest critics, says it remains to be seen whether the caps are too high.  But he says the more important provision of the BMV bill is about the fees’ transparency

“Somebody has to sign and say, ‘I understand that I’m paying more money than I would at a BMV branch.’  That’s a big deal,” Forestal says. “So at any point, the consumer now has what they didn’t have before, which is the chance to say no.”

Forestal says he’d rather see convenience fees eliminated entirely but is pleased with the compromise reached in the BMV bill. 

To help offset the fee decreases, the BMV bill would increase late fees.  For example, for registrations, the late fee would go from $5.00 to $15.00. For licenses, the late fee would go up from $5.00 to $6.00.  

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