It's auto tag renewal time in the District. It's a time when city drivers have traditionally broken into two factions: the fortunates who may mail their applications in and get their tags by return mail, and the long-suffering types whose outstanding parking or traffic tickets cause them to wait in line to find out how much they owe, wait in line to pay and wait in line to purchase new tags.

This year, everyone who acts quickly enough can avoid the lines, which lengthen as the March 31 deadline to attach the new stickers to D.C. license tags approaches.

For the 225,000 motorists with no outstanding obligations, motor vehicle tag and registration renewal applications have been mailed. They are asked to send the applications back by mail no later that March 17, and the tags will be mail no later that March 17, and the tags will be mailed back to them.

People who have no outstanding obligations against their applications and wish to buy tags in person may do so in Room 1065 of the Municipal Center, at 301 C St. NW, weekdays from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. They also may buy tags at the drive-through window of the Northeast Inspection Station at 1827 West Virginia Ave. NE weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 24 and 31, from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. The station will be closed for inspections during March.

Beginning March 19, motorists with no outstanding obligations can buy tags from mobile units in the Carter Barron parking lot and the Fort Dupont Park ice skating rink parking lot weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 24 and 31, from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tag fees are the same as last year: $38, $45, $71 and $79 for non-commercial vehicles, depending upon their weight. People who go to the Municipal Center may pay with cash, a personal check or money order. At the outlying locations, only checks and money orders will be accepted.

This year, the city has contracted with a bank to process payments for tags as they are mailed in. Transportation officials expect this to enable them to mail tags back to motorists more quickly than in recent years.

The 30,000 motorists who had outstanding parking ot traffic tickets or other obligations were sent notices of how much money they must pay before they can receive tag renewal applications. If they mail in their payment (certified checks or money orders) by March 7, they should receive tag applications in time to mail them in an receive their new tags by mail.

Drivers who owe outstanding tickets and wish to pay in person may pay the tickets in Room 2074 of the Municipal Center, on the 300 Indiana Ave. side, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. They will then be able to buy tags in any of the sales tag locations.

Motorists who have received no notification should go to Room 1003 of the Municipal Center, open 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

People who paid for tags previously with checks that were not honored have been notified to come in person to Room 1157 of the Municipal Center, window 10, from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. They will have to pay both the outstanding debt and this year's tag fees by cash, certified check or money order.

People who have questions about the tag renewal process may call 727-6764 during business hours.