Beautiful sights, adventure and simple living isn’t the only thing that attracts Idahoans to Benewah County.
Many individuals and businesses from other counties have taken advantage of the short wait times at the local licensing department. Benewah County Assessor, Donna Spier, said that she has witnessed more traffic through the courthouse over the last few years.
“I keep seeing more and more new faces going to the licensing department,” Ms. Spier said. “There are a lot of individuals and businesses that come to Benewah County just to avoid the long wait times. I’ve heard people say the two hour round trip from Coeur d’Alene to St. Maries and back is faster than waiting at the Kootenai County DMV.”
One out of county business that has been noticeably taking advantage of the short wait times is Thrifty Car Rental.
One reporter with the Gazette Record recently saw multiple rental vehicles at a Spokane lot with Benewah County license plates. According to the assessor’s office, since Thrifty Car Rental is a business that is based out of Kootenai County, they are able to license their vehicles in a different Idaho county, even if the vehicles are going to be used elsewhere.
Ms. Spier said that the Benewah County has been working with Thrifty since last April, and that the company will drop off large quantities of paperwork for the assessors to take care of over the course of a few days.
“We do about 3,000 registrations per year and title around 500-600 new additions/replacements to their rental fleet,” Ms. Spier said. “They drop off paperwork so we can do it in between walk in customers and come back next day or in two days to pick it back up.”
She said that the county makes about $3 per title and registration transaction. The same the county makes off of any customer.
“It’s a bit of a win-win for the county and the out-of-county business,” Ms. Spier said. “We get a bit of the money toward the county and they get to skip on the long lines.”
Mrs. Spier said that the county has also done business with other out of county businesses.
“We have started to get some dealership title work from George Gee in Coeur d’Alene, but so far the numbers are not very high,” Ms Spier said. “Ninety percent of our business walks through the door. Very few people do renewals through the Internet or mail, which are still processed in our office. Around twenty-five percent of business is out of county, however we have always had customers from Clarkia, Calder, Avery and Harrison.”
Reed Hollinshead, a Public Information Specialist with the Idaho Department of Transportation, said that businesses going out of county for licensing is common.
“It has been a common practice for an individual or company located in one county to use the DMV office of a nearby county to register a vehicle, especially when a person lives close to that office,” Mr. Hollinshead said. “It has no effect financially, since the fees still get routed to the county of residence, regardless of what office you use. We have seen an increase in this with longer lines in more populated counties.”
Mr. Hollinshead said that the state does notice that larger counties do have an issue with increasing lines and wait times at the DMV and that it is improving the system, and implementing enhancements based on county input. He said that a lot of people may not know that services like drivers licensing can be done online.
“The DMV has also worked really hard to get word out on the Star Card, and that has resulted in 10,000 online transactions, which are people not standing in lines at the county offices,” Mr. Hollinshead said. “Driver’s licensing can be done online. Since June we started doing that for Star Card. That’s where the 10,000 comes from.”
Mr. Hollinshead said that since July 1, 2019, the state has had 2.1 million visits to the DMV website.
For more information contact the Idaho Department of Transportation at 208-334-8000 or visit the DMV website at idt.idaho.gov/itddmv/.