Customers simply plug in their tag numbers and insurance information, and pay with a personal check or credit card. The machine spits out a new registration card and license tag stickers in a process that takes about five minutes.
MVA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said that by the year 2000, the kiosk might provide a variety of government services, from selling hunting and fishing licenses to registering voters to renewing drivers' licenses.
Ferro said it was time to "stop making citizens come when it's convenient for government."
"I think this is a tremendous stride," said Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook. He said he hoped the county could follow suit with automated services, possibly tied in with the state's network.
The state's pilot program has processed nearly 16,000 registration renewals since the first kiosk was installed in April 1997. The state is leasing 11 machines, placed across the state, from NCR Corp. at a cost of $700,000 a year, Ferro said.
She said the machines eventually would save the state money if enough people use them because the state would need fewer employees.
She said the program will start saving money when each kiosk logs 7,000 transactions a year.
The machine works by accessing a computer database in Glen Burnie, Md. The machine checks registration records and verifies that the applicant has no outstanding problems such as unpaid parking tickets.
People who have unpaid parking tickets or other problems still must go to an MVA office.
"I think it's very practical," said Loren Porter, 28, who has moved to Hagerstown from Illinois and was getting a new driver's license at the MVA office off Sharpsburg Pike, about two miles from the new automatic machine at Martin's.
"A DOT is a DOT no matter what state you're in. It's always a hassle as far as the paperwork and the waiting in line," she said.
"It would make things a lot easier," said William Moats, 27, of Hagerstown, who also was at the MVA.
"People work. Sometimes it's hard to get down here," he said.
Steve Leatherman, 32, of Frederick, Md., said the kiosk service is a good idea, even as he worked on nine registration cards at the MVA Tuesday.
"That would save us a lot of time," he said.
David C. Wagaman of Leitersburg said it's about time the state had something convenient like the automated machine, especially considering the amount of taxes people pay.
"That machine is a great idea," said Allen Stone, manager of Frederick Street Automotive Inc.
Stone said the machine would compete with his title and tag service, but said that he still has a niche to fill because the machine can't do everything. People who have a problem with their registration still need a personal touch, he said.