Registry of Motor Vehicles: Thanks for the reminder


Keeping a driver’s license from expiring should be effortless, or close to it. Your bank sends you a new ATM card before the old one expires; your gym membership refreshes as a matter of course. Maybe someday the Registry of Motor Vehicles could manage your driver’s license in something approaching the same manner.

Until then, Massachusetts motorists remain legally responsible for renewing their own licenses, which are good for five years and expire on a driver’s birthday. Fortunately, the Registry has at least resumed its former practice of mailing postcards to residents a few weeks before their current license runs out, reminding them that it’s possible to renew and pay online, and get an updated card in the mail.

The Registry stopped sending the renewal reminders back in 2008, pleading budget constraints. As a result, many drivers have been caught unawares, not realizing they were using an out-of-date license until a traffic stop or an airport security check. But the renewal mailers will soon resume, thanks to the Registry’s partnership with an advertising firm that will cover the costs in exchange for the right to include an ad with each reminder. It’s not as convenient as an automatic renewal would be. But it’s a step in the right direction.