‘Don’t come to the DMV’: Amid senior scrutiny, Giannoulias says many visits are unnecessary

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias exhorted Illinoisans on Thursday to eschew in-person office visits unless it’s necessary.

“Don’t come to the DMV,” Giannoulias said at a news conference in Chicago. “Don’t come ... unless you are 100% certain that you need to visit one of our facilities.”

“Most people do not need to go to a DMV facility to get what they need,” he said.

Giannoulias noted that this year about 10 million license plate sticker renewals and more than 1 million driver’s license or state ID renewals can be done remotely.

“It adds up to nearly 11 million transactions than can be completed without anyone having to step into a facility,” he said.

But in 2023, nearly 3 million people went to an office to obtain new vehicle stickers although that wasn’t required, Giannoulias said.

The “Ditch the DMV” campaign comes four months after Giannoulias switched to an appointment system for driver’s services, such as road tests.

After the Sept. 1 change, numerous drivers, many of them seniors, told the Daily Herald they were frustrated because appointments were either unavailable or a long distance away.

Asked about the issue, “anecdotally we are hearing a lot less of that. We’ve done everything we can and will continue to open up appointments,” Giannoulias said.

One concern is “the amount of no-shows has been devastating,” he added, citing a 40% level of missed appointments initially.

The problem occurred when users would grab whatever appointment they could find, then schedule another later without canceling the first, he said.

The agency is now offering text message reminders of appointments with the ability to cancel, which is expected to free up slots.

“This texting system is an enormously important step to make sure people are confirming their appointments,” Giannoulias said.

Another issue was driving schools snapping up multiple appointments in the mornings. The agency is now allowing driving schools to issue tests.

“It’s my hope the physical DMV becomes a relic for people requiring most of their services from the secretary of state’s office,” Giannoulias said.

Other fixes include:

· The agency has updated its website at to better identify what customers need and direct them to the correct service.

· Adding four senior-only temporary DMVs with walk-in service in Bridgeview, Calumet Park, Evanston and Westchester.

· Adding offices for road tests only in Addison, Lockport, Naperville and on Elston Avenue in Chicago.

· Expanding online renewal eligibility to drivers ages 75 to 78 and individuals with address changes.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s website is being updated to encourage drivers to conduct more business online. Courtesy of Illinois Secretary of State
The Illinois Secretary of State’s website is being updated to encourage drivers to conduct more business online. Courtesy of Illinois Secretary of State
  The Illinois secretary of state’s office is urging residents to avoid in-person visits if they can do renewals and access other needed services online. Brian Hill/
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