Planning in advance and having a network of experts can help your team stay on top of ever-changing requirements. - Photo: Getty Images

Planning in advance and having a network of experts can help your team stay on top of ever-changing requirements.

Photo: Getty Images

Keeping your fleet vehicles properly registered with state motor vehicle agencies (commonly called DMVs or BMVs) is a full-time job. The registration renewal criteria from state to state and the sheer amount of paperwork necessary to keep your fleet operating within the law is a perpetual, labor-intensive task. That's why Mike Albert Fleet Solutions has an entire fleet titles team solely focused on keeping clients’ vehicles fully compliant and on the road.  

To help you navigate increasingly complicated DMV renewal processes, here are some basic guidelines to follow based on common questions we receive from fleet managers. 

What’s the best way to monitor registration renewal policies in our location?  

Staying up to date on the latest renewal policies and procedures can be time-consuming, especially if you have vehicles operating across the country. If you’re managing your own renewals in-house, it’s essential to have at least one dedicated point person to maintain organized records of all the rules and regulations for each state, county, and town in which you operate.  

When it comes to monitoring and updating your internal database, we recommend investing in a comprehensive resource on renewal policies. Our team uses the NADA Title and Registration Textbook as a starting point for our annual updates; after that, we lean on our connections at various DMVs and third-party vendors to get the information we need. If you have an in-house team handling your renewals, we advise they establish these connections themselves through ongoing networking.  

How far ahead should we plan registration renewals?  

The timeline will depend on the size of your fleet, but we recommend starting the process of registration renewals about 90 days in advance. Building several weeks of lead time into your schedule gives you ample opportunity to learn the latest laws and regulations for your city and state, collect all the information you need to present to the DMV, and schedule any inspections (and necessary maintenance) that may be required to renew. If you wait to start this process just a few weeks or days in advance of the renewal deadline, you run the risk of receiving hefty fines or vehicle impoundment.   

Can our drivers handle DMV renewals?  

Your drivers are key to achieving your business and customer satisfaction goals. So, why sacrifice their productivity by tasking them to take care of registration renewals, which can eat up their valuable work hours waiting in line at the DMV? 

Plus, your drivers may not have the information or documentation required to complete the renewal process. For instance, how many of your drivers know your business’s federal tax ID number? And if they don’t have all the key information on hand, they’ll be forced to come back to the DMV another day and waste more of your company’s precious time.  

What’s the worst thing that could happen if we miss a registration renewal? 

When your plate is full with the day-to-day management and upkeep of your fleet, it's easy for registration renewals to get overlooked, but the consequences of delaying them can be quite costly. At a minimum, late renewals can incur hefty fines — and in many states, the penalties are stiffer. Some states have been known to boot or impound entire fleets if a single vehicle isn’t compliant with registration or inspection requirements. Others will blacklist a non-compliant vehicle, prohibiting it to be registered for an indeterminate amount of time in that state. Save yourself headaches by having your vehicles inspected and registered on time.  

No matter how safe or well-maintained your fleet vehicles are, if their regulatory documentation isn't up to date, they can't operate on the road legally. Building a robust fleet registration renewal management program will ensure your fleet is up and running compliantly at all times.

About the Author: Kelly Powers is the manager of fleet titles for Mike Albert Fleet Solutions. She has been with the company for seven years. Before Mike Albert, Powers worked for the Deputy Registrar and the Clerk of Courts in Warren County, Ohio, for 18 years. She has always worked in the automotive industry and enjoys learning about the ever-changing requirements and laws.