By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Problems at the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services continue after the department upgraded its computer system more than three months ago.

The new Minnesota License and Renewal System, or MNLARS, launched on July 24, but the system for vehicle tabs and licenses shut down the following week, causing major delays.

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The House Transportation Committee opened hearings for the new computer system in September.

The department said last month that the majority of transactions are happening without any issue or delay. But by mid-November, people are still seeing problems.

The Minnesota license plate bearing a well-spaced “M V J” has belonged to Mark Jolicoeur for many years.

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“I move personalized plates from one vehicle to another,” Jolicoeur said.

It is a move he always considered easy, taking him no longer than one trip to his local DVS office. After recently buying a new truck, he called the office to see if there would be any issues moving the plate again.

“[The woman on the phone] said, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘The new computer system doesn’t allow us to do that anymore,'” he said.

Jolicoeur says he was also hoping to expedite the title.

“Used to pay a $20 fee and that got you your title in four to five business days,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

However, he learned on the phone he would not be able to do that either.

Jolicoeur described the experience as extremely maddening and frustrating, words State Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchison) has been hearing a lot lately.

“That’s precisely why I’m calling the hearing,” Sen. Newman said.

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That hearing, hosted by the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee for which Sen. Newman is the chairman, will allow drivers, auto dealerships and deputy registrars to voice their concerns over MNLARS.

The new computer system has also led to delays with tab renewals, title transfers and more.

Sen. Newman says it is also hitting the consumer as he or she buys a new car.

“Banks require the transaction to be completed, and by their definition of ‘transaction is completed’ [means] when the certificate of title is issued and the plates are issued,” Newman said. “And if that doesn’t occur within 30 days, the banks are threatening to cancel the transaction, which really puts the consumer and the auto dealer in a real bind.”

Newman invited the DPS and DVS to the hearing. He is hoping they will better explain how they are working to fix the problem.

“I think they’ve spent pretty close to $100 million over the course of a decade, and this system isn’t working right yet,” he said.

Jolicoeur hopes to learn what solutions are in the works, but he cannot believe he is dealing with the problems in the first place.

“It’s the issue of how did they implement a program, spend all this money that they collected from the tax payer and roll out a system that doesn’t work” Jolicoeur said.

The hearing starts Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 10:30 a.m. in room 1200 of the Minnesota Senate Building.

DPS officials released the following statement:

The new computer system that launched in July is working, but not perfectly. The Dept. of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division continues to work with deputy registrars and customers, while MN.IT (the state’s IT agency) is working to improve the system.

Since its launch on July 24, more than 1.7 million registration renewals (tabs) and 600,000 titles have been processed through the new computer system

While the vast majority of transactions have been processed, some have not. DVS and MN.IT are working to fix the problems and to process all remaining transactions as quickly as possible.

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Anyone who has not received their license plates or tabs within 21 days, or has any other issue, can contact DVS at … They should include license plate or VIN number along with their full name.

Jeff Wagner