Gov. Cuomo puts a hold on controversial new DMV policy


ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - On Wednesday, a new policy went into effect at Department of Motor Vehicles across the state that would mean drivers would no longer be required to take an eye exam to renew their driver's license.

On Friday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo put a hold on the change.

The change was part of the Governor's plan to streamline all departments in the state. The Governor said it would make it easier to renew licenses online, and would make lines move faster at DMV offices. The long lines have been a complaint of New Yorkers for years.

A state official says the plan of having people 'self-certify' that they see well enough to drive is being reconsidered until physicians can be consulted.

State Senator James Seward of Oneonta had called for this policy to be rescinded.

Seward released a statement saying "The DMV's plan to drop eye tests for a driver license renewal is short-sighted and reckless. Clear vision is essential for safe driving. Allowing motorists to get behind the wheel with even a hint of question in regard to their eye sight is irresponsible."

Utica Mayor David Roefaro was glad to hear the Governor put a hold on the issue.

"I think it's a very smart move to put a hold on it," Roefaro said. "I believe that you have to have an eye test or some certification from an eye doctor that you can drive. If you leave it up to the person to see whether they feel themselves that they can drive, I mean, as you get elderly, you never want to give up your license, and that would be very detrimental and could be catastrophic."

Many eye doctors across the state say the same thing, including Dr. Steven Ohlbaum of New Hartford Eyecare.

"I think they're going in the wrong direction to save money," Dr. Ohlbaum said. "We have our cars inspected every year to make sure that they're functioning properly, but we really only inspect the drivers once and their vision every eight years, and my feeling is that driver malfunctioning is more common cause of an accident than the car."

County Clerks across the state are also glad to see the move put on hold.

Oneida County Clerk Sandra DePerno says Oneida County would lose more than $100,000 if people no longer renewed in person.

When someone renews in person, the county gets a certain percentage of each renewal, if they renewed by mail or online, the county gets nothing.

DePerno says that she hopes the change back to requiring eye exams is not just temporary.

"I know all of the County Clerks are up in arms about this," DePerno said. "We were talking about going and lobbying Albany later on, either next week or the following week, just like we did the license plates and the driver's license. So, I'm glad somebody has some brains in Albany."

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