Research helps calm dread of MVA trip

August 22, 2013|Lisa Prejean


That is not exactly a message anyone wants to receive about a week before school starts. This is an especially busy time. Who wants to deal with the Motor Vehicle Administration at any time of year ... but especially now?

And does the notice have to be in all caps? Is shouting necessary? Just seeing one of those brown envelopes from the MVA is enough to grab most people’s attention.

Don’t “they” know that my oldest will be a freshman in college, so we’ll be moving him next week? My youngest is a freshman in high school, so she starts a new journey this week. And, because I’m a high school teacher, college instructor and freelance writer, my workload is pretty heavy right now ....


Oh, the thoughts that cloud our minds.

I decided to calm down and do some research. Why should I believe the horror stories about the long lines at the MVA if I haven’t experienced them first-hand? 

First, I read the brochure, “Renewing Your Maryland Driver’s License: Apply in Person Just Once Every Five Years.”

(Was that license photo of me taken just five years ago? My, how time flies. Don’t think I had to use as much hair color then.) 

The Hagerstown branch office on Md. 65, Sharpsburg Pike, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday for all services, and 8:30 to noon on Saturdays for driver’s license services only.

The MVA sends out notices about 60 days prior to the renewal deadline, but who knows what the next six to eight weeks will bring?

Because a recommendation suggested avoiding long, end-of-month lines, I decided to take care of the renewal earlier this week. 

I took my Social Security card and birth certificate because I read that I would be required to provide proof of a Social Security number. However, I wasn’t asked for the card or the certificate. 

I only had to turn over my current license and $48. The fee covers an eight-year renewal. Since October 2012, the Maryland MVA began issuing noncommercial driver’s licenses for up to an eight-year period. The renewal time period is identified through a computer-generated selection process. The fees start at $30 for a five-year renewal and increase $6 for each additional renewal year.

Lucky me, I thought. I get to pay the higher fee and have the same photo for eight years.

However, I didn’t have to wait in a long line. I went in the morning, soon after the office opened, and was greeted by friendly, efficient workers. I’ll accept my photo, even though my cheeks are fuller than they were five years ago.

My trip to the MVA wasn’t so bad after all. It always pays to do your own research.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail’s Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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