CLEVELAND — With less than a week remaining until enforcement of expired registrations and drivers licenses resumes in Ohio, the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles was unable to process license transactions Thursday morning due to a nationwide outage at a key third-party vendor. State officials said an outage at the American Association of Motor Vehicles (AAMVA) left BMV staff unable to cross-check licenses against a litany of different federal databases.
Although the outage was corrected by around 11 a.m. Thursday, it came at one of the worst possible times, said Charlie Norman, the state registrar of motor vehicles.
"We'll be working hard to catch up all day, that's for sure," Norman said. "It wasn't BMV's systems going down. There is the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, they had an outage. It serves as a clearinghouse for the federal government for a number of databases that motor vehicle agencies have to ping and do transactions with.... There's really no way to issue transactions if you can't hit the social security database, the US passport database, the USCIS. You really have to wait until the system is back up."
Norman said outages happen on occasion. However, outages over an extended period, like the one that occurred Thursday, are quite uncommon.
"Today was a rough day, that's for sure," Norman said.
A steady stream of people walking into the Brooklyn branch of the Ohio BMV were turned away during the outage. Some drivers were mildly annoyed by the outage but not overly frustrated.
"I'm just glad things are back open, even if they're messed up [right now]," said Rayshon Jackson.
The Ohio BMV estimates that approximately 100,000 driver's licenses statewide expired over the course of the pandemic and 221,000 vehicle registrations expired. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state offered extensions to drivers whose tags or licenses were expired in an effort to limit crowds at BMV branches as well as lift a financial burden on residents.
That amnesty ends July 1.
"I had to come get my plates renewed because they gave us more than enough time to get our plates together,” said Devontri Jordan. “It was time to get it done. They gave us more than enough time. I’ve seen people are riding around with plates hanging off and everything.”
Jordan went to the Brooklyn branch of the BMV around lunchtime on Thursday afternoon after all the systems came back online. Although the branch was certainly busy, he lauded the staff for keeping customers moving at a quick pace. He was also thankful for the extensions that BMV offered over the past year.
“Everybody was losing their jobs and stuff. They actually did help us out a lot,” Jordan said. “They gave us time to do it. They gave us a lot of opportunity. Time to pay them back now. They gave us enough money now it's time to pay it back.”
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