Reach out and renew your car registration


For anyone who's lived the nightmare of standing in line for hours at the Motor Vehicle Administration just to renew a car registration, Planning Research Corp. has what you want: a renewal-by-phone system.

PRC, a division of Baltimore-based Black & Decker Corp., has developed a system that allows people to instantly renew vehicle registrations by phone. Using a touch-tone phone and a credit card, users can dial a toll-free number 24 hours a day to renew registrations.

Once connected to the system, an automated voice greets callers and walks them through the registration process. The entire renewal process, from start to finish, takes less than three minutes.

"This alleviates a lot of the waiting," said Robert P. Flinton, a spokesman for PRC, which is based in McLean, Va.

According to Mr. Flinton, a number of states are currently considering using the dial-in system.

That would include Maryland, where officials in the MVA have expressed a "deep interest" in trying out the new system, he said.

Maryland's neighbor to the south has gone even further, he said.

Starting today, Mr. Flinton said Virginia will begin a three-month test of the system in three districts around Richmond. Providing those tests go smoothly, he said, Virginia plans to begin offering the phone-in option for motorists statewide.

Wisconsin, the first state to use the system, completed a three-month test and is in the process of rolling it out statewide.

Though the system is limited to registration renewals, Mr. Flinton said that PRC plans to expand it later to handle payments of taxes and fines. He said other applications for other agencies are being explored.

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