The planned April 26 end of the Colorado stay-at-home order prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak means that a slew of government agencies must figure out how to ramp up after an extended break. But few will have as challenging a path forward as the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles, which experienced a disruption of service that affected untold thousands of state residents — including yours truly.
Turns out my driver's license expired during the stay-at-home order, and when I went to the department's website in an effort to renew online, I learned that only people with active licenses can do so using that site. Folks with expired licenses, in contrast, have to visit a DMV office, all of which are currently closed.
What to do? That's something of an open question — one of many with which the department is grappling right now.
On April 17, notes DMV communications manager Julie Brooks, "we announced the first phase of our reopening, with Colorado driver license holders being served by appointment only. It will be a great opportunity for us to assess our ability to serve customers through appointments while still maintaining social distancing in our offices."
Unfortunately, she continues, "we will not know how soon we can expand to serve other customers" — like those with expired licenses — "until we start this reopening process." Hence the department has issued automatic sixty-day extensions to folks whose licenses expired during this stretch. This information is being sent in letters to individuals in this situation; I recently received mine.
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In the meantime, the impending end of the stay-at-home order has prompted a planned May 4 reopening of some DMV offices. The first nine offices to get going again (supplemented by what's described as "several" of the department's 92 testing units) will be focused almost entirely on truck drivers and the like; the only services offered will be the issuance of commercial driver licenses to applicants who've met all the training requirements, the issuance of commercial learner's permits, license upgrades for Colorado drivers adding endorsements, and the administration of written driver-license exams. All of this must be done by appointment, too; call 303-205-5613, option 4, to schedule one.
These are the nine DMV offices slated to reopen on May 4:
• Aurora — 14391 E. 4th Ave., Aurora, CO 80011
• Northglenn — 11900 N. Washington St., Northglenn, CO 80233
• Colorado Springs — 2447 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80909
• Pueblo — 827 W. 4th St., Pueblo, CO 81003
• Westgate — 3265 S. Wadsworth Blvd., #3A, Lakewood, CO 80227
• Loveland — 118 E. 29th St., Ste F, Loveland, CO 80538
• Glenwood Springs — 51027 Hwy 6 & 24 Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
• Montrose — 2305 S. Townsend Ave., Unit C, Montrose, CO 81401
• Golden — 16950 W. Colfax Ave, Suite 104, Golden, CO 80401
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There's no date yet for the reopening of other kinds of offices, let alone all of them; that will depend on what's described as "the COVID-19 situation." And while testing and licensing will resume, training and education facilities are to remain closed until further notice.
As for those lucky enough to land an appointment, they are instructed not to come into any DMV office "if they are feeling ill or have any reason to suspect that they might have been exposed to COVID-19." They'll also be required to wear gloves and a face mask while in the office (it can be removed when a photo is taken), and are asked not to bring any guests.
And what will happen to a driver with a technically expired license who gets pulled over for a traffic violation? Will he get hit with a citation for driving with an expired license, too? The DMV's Brooks notes that "law enforcement agencies have been notified of the issue surrounding license holders who must be seen in an office in order to renew (as well as those with license plates that may have expired). However, we have no control over what action a law enforcement agency may take."
One more unknown in a scenario filled with them.