The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has reversed its decision to eliminate the eye test for most driver’s license renewals.
DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala said today she will convene an advisory group of health, safety and transportation experts to determine the best and most efficient way to ensure that drivers possess the vision acuity necessary for safe driving.
"I have asked the medical organizations prominent in the vision health field, AAA and AARP to review the best alternatives for a system that receives more than 2.4 million driver license renewal applications each year,” Fiala said. “Those of us charged with delivering key government services to the public must always look for the most cost-effective ways to provide those services, but public safety will always be the first priority at DMV and it will not be compromised."
The group will review the latest procedures for vision testing, the policies of other states and the most cost-effective means of assuring the vision safety of New York State’s 11 million drivers, while providing the convenience of online transactions.
New Yorkers applying for a driver license for the first time will continue to be required to take a vision test at a DMV location, and commercial driver license holders will still be required to undergo bi-annual medical and vision examinations by a medical professional. On Wednesday, the DMV ended its system of requiring an eye test for most license renewals and extended its “self-certification” system for drivers regarding medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive.
The New York State Ophthalmological Society, the New York State Optometric Association, the New York State Society of Opticians, and the Medical Society of the State of New York in a joint statement said, "We, eye care and Medical professionals, are pleased that the Governor’s office will review with us the options to maximize public safety and simultaneously enable streamlining of government service.”
"We thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Fiala for including us in these efforts and look forward to working with them," said John A. Corlett, Legislative Committee Chairman for AAA New York State.
"AARP looks forward to working with the Cuomo Administration to develop ways to ensure that all New Yorkers have the ability to navigate our roads safely,” said Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State director. “We also support examining alternative locations for individuals to renew their license in their communities."
The current vision testing procedure was instituted in 2000 and requires that the customer read lines on an eye chart behind the DMV counter. This system will remain in effect pending the outcome of the advisory group's recommendations. Vision testing was suspended in New York from 1993 to 2000. Fourteen states, including four bordering New York, currently allow motorists to renew their driver license without a vision test.