DMV pressed into overtime to help car buyers
take advantage of federal rebate program
As Idaho car buyers scrambled to take advantage of a federal incentive program and automobile dealers braced for the wave of last-minute transactions the Idaho Transportation Department worked behind the scenes to help expedite providing registration verification for submittal of requirements by dealers.
Division of Motor Vehicles staff in Boise worked through the weekend to help buyers beat the Monday (Aug. 24) “Cash for Clunkers” deadline. Formally known as CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System), the federal program encouraged motorists to trade older, less fuel-efficient vehicles. The intent was to stimulate the economy and improve the environment.
Purchasers who met federal guidelines for traded vehicles and standards for new purchases received additional allowances of up to $4,500.
DMV employees dedicated extra hours on Saturday and Sunday to help dealers meet special program requirements that required verification of buyers’ eligibility. Car buyers needed individual letters that confirmed their trade-ins were registered and licensed the past 12 months.
“We recognized the need to provide extra help to meet the federal CARS deadline,” explains Amy Smith, manager of the Vehicle Services. “These were very unusual circumstances and requirements, which called for a non-traditional approach. We were pleased to provide the additional service to both buyers and dealers, and very much appreciate our staff’s willingness to give up their weekend to work. Our staff responded to the needs and the requests of the dealer community.”
New car buyers had to complete transactions by 6 p.m. Monday to meet the federal deadline. Congress initially allocated $1 billion for the incentive program, expecting it to continue into this fall. Funds were exhausted much faster, prompting an additional $2 billion. Demand remained strong, and because of diminishing funds, the Aug. 24 deadline was announced.
The timeframe was extremely short for entry into the federal system, so the dealers and customers needed the additional assistance that DMV staff could provide to help them comply with federal standards.
“The timing for completing transactions was very short,” Smith added. “We didn’t want customers or dealers to lose out on the opportunity to qualify for the CARS program or to slow the process, so we responded by offering a special weekend service.”
DMV staff processed about 70 letters on Saturday and another 18 on Sunday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Employees included Cari Sylvia, Trina Posluszny, Debbie Whitefield, Gina Star, Stacia Stansell, Traci Richards, Carol Price and Kimberly Stump, all of Vehicle Services. They also used the time to catch up on other programs during the quiet times.
“The morning was quiet, and then the calls gradually increased from there,” a supervisor reported about Saturday’s workload. “Sometimes the calls came in spurts, but mostly they came in at a steady pace.”
Automobile dealers throughout the state were grateful for the weekend assistance. A dealer from Lewiston expressed his appreciation in a letter to Trent Wright of the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association.
“Just a quick note to you regarding the weekend help the ITD provided. I talked to three different individuals at the ITD office and was totally impressed with their professionalism and great attitudes,” wrote Jeff Brooks, general manager of Mick McClure Honda.