Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie
DMV workers (Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie)

MILFORD, CT — A new, state-of-the-art Department of Motor Vehicle Express Center which will allow people to renew their licenses and ID cards opens this morning at the Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union at 977 Boston Post Road in Milford. 

The center is designed to begin to replace eight New Haven and Fairfield county AAA offices, which discontinued the same services when it couldn’t reached agreement with the state at the end of 2016.

One of those AAA offices was in Milford.

A fee of $5 will be charged for non-Nutmeg members to complete transactions; it will increase to $8 on July 1. The $5 fee was also charged by AAA.

The Milford express center location will offer customers the ability to renew driver’s licenses and ID cards while utilizing services designed to help streamline the transactions, including the ability to offer appointments, provide service tickets stamped with same-day times, offer self-service information kiosks, and provide text and email messages for customer convenience.

“The service launched today is an innovative step forward, giving customers a reliable option to renew driver’s licenses, while at the same time reducing the strain on DMV locations,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at a press conference at the site Wednesday.

“This public-private partnership should serve as a model for how we can work together to make sure Connecticut residents receive the best possible services,” Malloy added.

Motorists had been unhappy when AAA ended its relationship with the DMV.

Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy outside the new location (Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie)

“We are excited about opening this Milford location to serve the Southern Connecticut area,” DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra said. “We believe this partnership will serve the citizens of Connecticut well by giving them additional places for license and ID card renewal services.”

The move was also applauded by Department of Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez.

“Innovations like these not only help strengthen our credit unions in the state but allow them to grow and thrive,” Perez said. “Here, government and industry worked together, not only for the benefit of Nutmeg’s members, but all Connecticut residents.”

Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union President and CEO John Holt said “Our intent is to offer convenience through technology whether you are doing your banking or renewing your license.”

Malloy and other officials said the way the system will work is that if there are lines being served by the five DMV employees, those wanting to renew their licenses can use the kiosk to make an appointment for later that same day to come back and renew their license.

When Holt was asked how much traffic he expected the office to get, he answered: “A lot.” He added one reason his company wanted to be in on the deal is he’s hoping that DMV customers may become Nutmeg customers.

The governor joked that’s one of the reasons he believes the DMV location is in the right place – noting there is a Total Wine a few hundred yards away that people can shop for booze while there waiting for their appointment.

On a more serious note, Malloy stated that the infamous lines at the DMV offices in the state could be avoided if people realized that much of what they do at the DMV can be done online.

He estimated that “30 percent” of the people who come to the DMV when instead they can do their transactions online.

The Milford DMV Express Center does not yet have the ability to take appointments through phone apps, but both Holt and Malloy said that’s the eventual goal for not only the Milford site but for the entire DMV system.

The Milford DMV Express Center will be open every Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Hours could be extended in the future.

The following services will be provided at the location: verified license renewals (U.S. Citizens Only); regular driver’s license renewals; verified ID card renewals (U.S. Citizens only); regular ID card renewals; duplicate driver’s licenses, ID cards, and learner’s permits; name changes on driver’s licenses, ID cards and learner’s permits.

Last year, the DMV opened a public request-for-qualifications process to find third-party vendors that could provide license and ID card renewal services in an effort to spur innovation and create a network of convenient offices in New Haven and Fairfield Counties to replace those that were in the region’s AAA Northeast offices, which no longer provide these services.

In northern Connecticut, license renewals and other DMV services are offered through AAA Club Alliance, which has offices in Avon, Cromwell, Enfield, Manchester, Old Saybrook, Waterford, and West Hartford.

The Milford location is the first of several planned DMV Express offices that Nutmeg will open. Nutmeg also currently has offices in Stratford and Orange.

When it announced it was ending the contract with the DMV in 2016, AAA Northeast said it was necessary because the number of office transactions has nearly doubled and the number of non-member transactions has increased from 17 percent five years ago to almost 50 percent in 2016.

The Milford office will not process commercial driver licenses, licenses with endorsements/restrictions for public passengers, suspended drivers’ licenses, and “Drive Only” license services. Those services are available at DMV branch offices.

Along with each of the available transactions, eligible customers at the Milford location will also be given the opportunity to register to vote.