DMV commissioner retires
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Joe Miller, who was in his second stint leading the agency, has retired.
Miller has led the agency since his appointment by former Gov. Joe Manchin in 2009, having previously served as DMV commissioner under Gov. Cecil Underwood from 1997-2001.
Miller's retirement was widely anticipated. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin confirmed that Tuesday was Miller's final day with the agency.
"I wish Joe the best in his upcoming, and much-deserved, retirement from public service," Tomblin said in a statement.
"During his years as commissioner, Joe has remained dedicated to improving technology at the division in order to enhance customer service," Tomblin said. "I'm grateful for his service and commitment to West Virginians."
Tomblin said current DMV Deputy Commissioner Steve Dale would assume the role of acting commissioner.
Tomblin and Dale praised Miller for making some significant changes to the agency over the last four years.
"I have big footsteps to follow as Commissioner Miller has really set the wheels in motion for some big changes at DMV," Dale said.
The most significant was the state's implementation of federal Real ID Act regulations to increase security for photo IDs. West Virginia was one of just 13 states to meet the federal government deadline to comply with the new rules.
In addition to Real ID compliance, Dale said Miller also had laid the foundation for several initiatives designed to boost efficiency and customer service at the agency.
"I would be fortunate if I could muster just half of the vision that Joe had for the agency to further the goals of Gov. Tomblin and Secretary Maddox for providing better and more efficient services for West Virginia motorists," Dale said.
Those initiatives include a combined cash register and digital license plate system — which Dale said would serve as a foundation for longer-term DMV modernization efforts — and the construction of the new regional office in Summersville.
He said the DMV is also two-thirds of the way through the process of implementing its electronic insurance verification system.
The system will replace the state's current paper-based system, and is designed to help law enforcement officers curb the number of uninsured drivers on state roads.
"Our longer range goal is a unified customer record so that when you interact with DMV, all of your records appear to the customer service representatives," Dale said, "so you can get your address changed on not only your driver's license, but also all of your vehicles, boats, trailers etc. at one time."
Dale said this system would eliminate redundant data entry into the state's separate revenue, driver and vehicle databases.
Dale has been mentioned as one of the possible permanent replacements as commissioner. Former West Virginia University Athletic Director Ed Pastilong had discussed interest in the position, but withdrew his name from consideration earlier this month.
A 30-year veteran of the DMV, Dale has earned bachelor's and master's degrees in political science from Marshall University and a master's degree in legal studies from West Virginia University.
He lives in South Charleston with his wife Shelia, who runs a speech pathology practice specializing in helping children with communication challenges.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5148.