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Lewis & Clark County leaders working to address long lines for vehicle registration

Posted at 6:20 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 20:35:39-04

HELENA — Lewis and Clark County leaders say they know the public is frustrated over long lines to register vehicles, and they are taking steps to address them.

“Normally summers are our highest-volume time; this summer has been much busier than any other summer,” said Paulette DeHart, the county’s treasurer, clerk and recorder. “I know our population is growing, the number of transactions is increasing, and the customers have had to wait longer than they’ve ever had to before.”

While the Motor Vehicle Department was short-staffed, DeHart said her employees have been working as hard as they can to keep the lines moving.

“The existing staff have been working overtime since June 1, opening all four windows at 7:30 in the morning, instead of just two,” she said.

DeHart is also asking the county commission to approve a budget amendment, to provide funding for an additional full-time employee to work with customers before they get to the window.

“Individuals can come in, that person will hand them a ticket, they’ll check to see if their paperwork is in, they’ll check to make sure they’ve got the required paperwork, so they’re not sitting there for hours to get to the window and find out ‘My paper’s not there,’” DeHart said.

After someone purchases a new car, the dealer has up to 30 days to send necessary paperwork to the county treasurer’s office. DeHart said, in many cases, people come in to file for the title but find that paperwork hasn’t arrived yet.

“We’re hoping to help those individuals not have to wait in these lines,” she said.

The Montana Attorney General’s Office provides county treasurer’s offices with the computer hardware and software to register vehicles. DeHart said the office is looking at providing Lewis and Clark County with more computer monitors, so staff can process transactions more quickly.

The county is also limiting LLCs to titling two vehicles at a time. LLCs, or limited liability companies, are businesses incorporated in Montana for tax purposes. DeHart said the companies often registered a number of vehicles at once, which could lead to longer waits.

DeHart said her office now handles more than 8,000 transactions a month. She said they will keep looking for ways to make sure they go more quickly.

“We’re very aware of the lines and how long people are having to wait, and we’re doing everything we can at this point to try and alleviate that,” she said.

You can check the lines at the Lewis and Clark County Motor Vehicle Department on an online webcam, available here.

If your vehicle tags have not expired, you can renew them online here.