Spring remodeling of state office would allow 24-hour access stations

Published 4:19 am Tuesday, April 4, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - License plate renewal is one of the most frequent reasons people make a stop at the Southeast Berrien County location of the Secretary of State, the manager of the office, Shelley Marker said.
Renewing a license plate used to require spending a lunch break or a late Wednesday afternoon waiting in line. In an effort to reduce the amount of moans and groans of Michigan drivers, Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land one year ago introduced 28 automated self-service stations to make the trip to a local office much smoother.
Among the locations with the ATM-like machines is the downtown Niles office at 110 E. Main St.
Michigan drivers can navigate through the process by using the station's touch screen. Each applicant must have their license renewal form they received in the mail or know the personal identification number (PIN) that is printed at the bottom left of the form.
With the form in hand, drivers can simply scan the bar code that appears on the back and pay with a credit card. Without the form, drivers would have to enter their PIN and license plate number and continue from there with a credit card, Marker said.
The entire process can take less than five minutes and reduces the amount of traffic mixed in with other requests at the office, Marker added.
Nearly 30,000 transactions accounting for close to $3 million in revenue have been recorded by the self-service stations in the last 12 months, according to a press release from the Secretary of State.
The stations are located at either a SUPER!Center or a PLUS Office, which Marker said allows visitors to, among other things, obtain driving records on site instead of mailing the requests to Lansing.
Of the 28 machines across the state, 17 of them are available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Marker said she is working to make the Niles office number 18 in that category. Remodeling to the front of the branch is planned for this spring, which Marker said would make the entrance similar to a 24 hour ATM room at the bank.
Business usually begins to pick up around Memorial Day, Marker added.
Around 10 drivers a week are using the self-service station at the Niles office.