Florida drivers race to beat Sept. 1st hike in license, tag fees

With the cost of nearly every driving fee scheduled to rise Tuesday, drivers from across the state flooded motor-vehicle offices to renew their licenses and motor-vehicle tags to avoid having to pay more to the government.

The state's website was even worse. So many people tried to log on to renew tags and licenses that it shut down the state's Virtual Office computer system on and off all day since Friday.

``The system can't handle the volume. The pipeline isn't designed for all these people,'' said Dave Westbury, spokesman for the Florida Department of Highway Saftey and Motor Vehicles.

In normal times, Westbury said, the Virtual Office handles fewer than 400,000 transactions daily. But on Friday, there nearly 900,000 transactions were attempted. If a technical glitch prevents people from renewing ahead of the deadline, they'll receive a voucher that will allow them to pay the older rates. State county tax collectors can pass out the vouchers as well.

It's not just drivers who are paying more these days. The cost of nearly every government service increased after the Legislature this spring raised a total of $2.2 billion worth of new fees and taxes.

Not everyone is pleased.

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