BENNINGTON — The Bennington branch office of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, closed since Gov. Phil Scott issued his stay-at-home order in March is reopening to the public.
But there's a slightly new wrinkle: Instead of waiting in the office to have your number called, you'll need to set an appointment. That can be done online at the DMV's self-service page, dmv.vermont.gov/mydmv, or by calling 888-970-0357.
Then again, a lot of what used to require a trip to the DMV office — and a wait of indeterminate length, depending on how busy the office was — can now be handled online. Those tasks include license and registration renewals and replacements, address changes, learner permit exams, paying reinstatement fees, and many commercial vehicle transactions.
Perhaps the most significant change is motorists can submit a registration for a recently-purchased car and print out a temporary plate.
The revamped service in Bennington, and at reopened offices in Springfield and Newport, is based on the successes and lessons learned of DMV's reopening of branches in South Burlington, Montpelier and Rutland, Commissioner Wanda Minoli said.
"Customers love the convenience and efficiency of having a scheduled appointment time and no wait," she said.
Private sale registrations were "the one process we do where we were very backlogged," Minoli said, with customers waiting as long as six weeks for their mailed-in applications to be processed.
Now, customers can log in, enter their information, and be issued a temporary plate they can print out and place in the back window. About 5,000 temporary registrations have already been issued, Minoli said.
"I'm seeing them on vehicles as I drive throughout the state," she said.
State Reps. Mollie S. Burke, P-Brattleboro, and Timothy R. Corcoran II, D-Bennington, both members of the House Transportation Committee, had been hearing from constituents who were frustrated by backlogs and the lack of walk-in access. The reopening of offices, along with the expansion of online services, should help ease those concerns, both lawmakers said.
"The biggest complaint has been consumers needing new registrations ... before a couple weeks ago they couldn't be done online," Corcoran said. "All the things people need to do on routine basis can be done online. From that standpoint, it's good."
Burke noted that for folks without online access, there are still many services that can be handled by mail.
"I think [DMV is] trying to be accommodating and keep their people safe," Burke said. "In a DMV office you have people sitting around -- and the office in Dummerston is really small."
Until the announcement, the closest full-service DMV office for Southern Vermont customers was in Rutland. The Dummerston branch office on U.S. Route 5, which offered limited services including licenses, IDs, permits and registrations, remains closed to the public.
A decision has yet to be made on branch offices including Dummerston, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury, Middlebury and White River Junction. The DMV did not lay off or furlough employees during the pandemic, Minoli said.
The hours of operation for appointments at all three locations are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Customers with appointments are asked to arrive ten minutes before their appointment so DMV staff can review and verify all required paperwork.
The Bennington, Newport and Springfield branch offices will be offering regular office transactions, operator exams, and Commercial Driver's License (CDL) permit exams. They will not yet be conducting motorcycle skills or CDL skill exams.
Motorcycle testing is available at other DMV locations.
More information: https://dmv.vermont.gov/mydmv