Clerks Corner: Navigating the DMV |

Clerks Corner: Navigating the DMV

Lila Herod, Moffat County Clerk and Recorder/For the Saturday Morning Press

No one is ever more honest with you than an unhappy customer. Many people become easily frustrated with government agencies for several reasons, such as required paperwork and wait times. Department of Motor Vehicles offices likely rank right near the top of the list of “most-hated” government agencies, and even those of us who are employed by a government agency can get frustrated with policies and procedures as well!

Just like any other business, the Clerk & Recorder’s Office must comply with state and federal laws. Often, the rules and regulations don’t seem to make sense as they may cause us inconvenience or seem absurd. One example involves restrictions in the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. Here is one scenario: you are at work or out of town and your license plates are going to expire. You send in your spouse, a neighbor, or friend with a check and your plate number, but then your “helper” gets turned away at our front counter because they are not the actual owner of record. We were not able to disclose your personal information to your helper due to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act!

There have been many unhappy customers at the Motor Vehicle Office because of this policy, but it is in fact a valuable safeguard. The Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act was passed into law in 1989 after an actress named Rebecca Schaeffer was stalked and murdered by a man who had retrieved her personal information. The man had obtained her motor vehicle record from the local DMV! I think we all can agree that this is a necessary law that fulfills its purpose by providing privacy and protection to our citizens.

The same law makes it unlawful for any employees of a State Motor Vehicle office to knowingly disclose personal information that pertains to a motor vehicle record. Regrettably, it can be frustrating when good intentions then put us in a personal bind. Our office always wants to do our best and we want to provide you with excellent customer service, but we must also follow the laws, complete all of the required forms, and collect applicable fees.

So keep in mind that you can renew your license plates in person, through the mail, or online at If someone other than the registered owner is going to renew license plates, you must bring in a motor vehicle power of attorney, a vehicle renewal notice, or the previous year’s registration. Our motor vehicle staff will process those transactions because those documents have the current owner’s information, but they are not be able to make any changes to the existing record if the customer is not the legal owner. The motor vehicle clerk may also decide to mail the transactions rather than hand it over the counter.

When conducting any motor vehicle business, remember to bring your driver’s license and insurance card! Do you have questions or comments? Please contact our motor vehicle department at 970-824-9104 or send an email to

Until next month, cheers!

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