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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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An eye toward the future: vision test no longer required for license renewals

As you already know, your driver's license will be suspended or revoked unless you meet certain requirements here in the state of New York. For example, when the time comes to renew your driver's license, you are more than likely accustomed to traveling to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) - and perhaps standing in line for quite some time - in order to take a mandatory vision test.

Starting today, however, this no longer case, as state officials are forgoing the mandatory vision test for those New Yorkers seeking to renew their driver's licenses and instead allowing them to "self-certify" that their vision is good enough to allow them to see the road.

This policy shift was brought about thanks to a mandate from Governor Andrew Cuomo that all state agencies streamline their operations and cut costs. Here, the DMV predicted that allowing people to renew their driver's licenses without taking the vision test would result in more renewals online or by mail.

"I am pleased that we have been able to respond to Governor Cuomo's call that state agencies identify and change procedures that are outdated, could be streamlined or could be transacted online," said Barbara J. Fiala, Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

She also pointed out that the new policy was consistent with other DMV policies that enable motorists to self-certify that they don't have hearing issues, heart problems or conditions which can result in unconsciousness.

It is worth noting that certain vehicle safety advocacy groups were not pleased with this policy shift regarding the vision test.

"Drivers might no longer be able to see where they're going, but we sure can: this decision puts all of us in danger," said Paul Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives. "We shouldn't reverse course in an effort to save a few bucks. This is more than a matter of dollars and cents; it's a matter of life and death."

This is not the first time that the state has changed course regarding the vision test and driver's license renewal. The vision test was not required from 1993 to 2000, and was reluctantly reinstituted by Governor George Pataki who acted on the advice of physicians/health experts.

What do you think of not having to take a vision test to renew your driver's license?

Stay tuned for further developments from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you are dealing with a suspended license, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

The New York Times, "DMV to drop eye exam for license renewals" Sept. 27, 2011

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