State officials briefly shut down a new computer system for vehicle registration and licensing Thursday as they worked to fix glitches.
The multimillion-dollar system for processing license plates, tabs and titles has been plagued with problems since it was put online last week to replace 30-year-old technology. It’s called the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System or MNLARS.
State Rep. Paul Torkelson, the chairman of the House transportation committee, said MNLARS is slowing transactions throughout the state. Torkelson, R-Hanska, said he’s been in regular contact with the Department of Public Safety about the problems.
“It’s been a little more problematic than we anticipated,” Torkelson said. “I don’t think anybody anticipated that a system this large could be switched on without some difficulty. We believe they’re doing their best to address the issues as they crop up, and we’re trying to support that work.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety said no one was available for an interview.
Torkelson said legislators are receiving numerous complaints from deputy registrars across the state who working to sort of the problems with local customers.
Suzanne Jensen, the president of the Minnesota Deputy Registrar’s Association, said service was affected for a few hours throughout the state Thursday during the repairs, which she learned about during a daily conference call with DPS.
Jensen said the system’s long list of defects has been difficult for local staff and customers.
“We definitely knew that this would be a difficult transition and it would be very challenging,” Jensen said. “But I never imagined it would be the way it is.”
The rocky rollout of the new state system is also causing big headaches for auto dealers and their customers.
Scott Lambert, president of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, said dealers are currently unable to process about half of their transactions, including license plate sales and title applications. In response to the registration delays, Lambert said the state is allowing dealers to issue their customers a second 21-day temporary permit.
“Transactions are not going to stop coming in, and the state has to recognize that,” Lambert said. “They’ve got to get this going.”
The Department of Public Safety noted late Thursday that its new system had successfully issued 31,908 vehicle titles from July 25 through 31 and 123,098 vehicle registration for the same period. Both were increases from the June totals under the old system.