April 21, 2004 – Starting Monday, motorists on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John will be able to take advantage of new mail-in and drop-off vehicle registration procedures, Police Commissioner Elton Lewis announced on Wednesday.
Lewis had said on Tuesday that the new procedures would initially apply only to St. Thomas. But on Wednesday he said that because of "input from my staff and the motoring public, I have decided to offer this service throughout the territory to eliminate waiting time and long lines."
The new alternatives to spending time waiting in long lines at Motor Vehicle Bureau offices are:
– To mail in motor vehicle registration forms with accompanying documentation.
– To deposit the paperwork in what police described as secure lock boxes to be installed outside the bureau offices on all three islands. (See the St. Thomas Source report "Mail-in, drop-off vehicle registration coming".)
On Tuesday, Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police spokesman, had said the department hoped to set up mail-in and drop-off procedures for St. Croix soon and that mail-in registration was in the works for St. John. (See the St. John Source report "No printer, no new licenses — for months".)
Hannah said on Wednesday that the St. Croix lock box will be located in front of the Police Department's Patrick Sweeney Headquarters, "where we have police officers working at the front desk."
The box on St. John will be outside the Motor Vehicle Bureau offices in Cruz Bay, he said, where it will be secure and easily checked on.
The St. Thomas box will be outside the bureau offices in Sub Base in a well-lighted area, and will be checked by police periodically, Hannah said.
Hannah warned that "if anyone tries to vandalize these boxes, they will go to jail."
Police are aware that tampering with the boxes "could be a problem, and we are hoping and praying nobody does that," Hannah said. "We know we are taking a risk. We are hoping the community cooperates with us. We are trying to alleviate a problem and give people some relief."
He said there are no plans to increase the bureau staff to help with a deluge of registrations, but a system is in place. "It can be done," he said. "We don't have enough personnel, but if we think smart and do it on an assembly-line basis, it will work."
As he had done on Tuesday, Hannah again warned motorists to be meticulous in filling out their paperwork:
– Make sure the information on the expiring registration form is correct, including the vehicle identification number and your current mailing address. If you've changed your address, submit a signed letter so stating and documentation of your new address, such as a copy of a utility bill.
– Include your daytime telephone number so authorities can contact you to clear up any questions.
A complete set of instructions concerning the materials that should be submitted is in Tuesday's St. Thomas Source report.
Hannah declined to estimate what the turn-around time in the mail-in and drop-off registration processes will be until the department gets some sense in the next week or so of the number of registrations coming in. They will be processed in order by the "received" date stamped on the registration form by the inspecting officer, he said.
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