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Eye Exam for Drivers License Renewal Under Review

Editor's Note: The Department of Motor Vehicles announced Friday that it is reviewing the policy it had adopted Monday to do away with the requirement for eye-exams for those renewing their driver's licenses. Self-certification remains an option while the policy is being renewed.

Bronxville, N.Y. – Cindy Tigue said she hadn't yet heard that New York State will no longer require drivers renewing their license to retake an eye exam.

"I don't think this is a good idea," said Tigue, while standing in line at Lange's in Bronxville. "If the state is going to issue a license to drive, they should be sure a person can see first."

Optometrist Dr. J. Sabrina Russo of Bronxville Vision Care on Park Place agrees.

"I think it is a horrible idea," Russo said. "This will put many people in unnecessary danger."

State Department of Motor Vehicles officials said a new online driver’s license renewal application under "MyDMV" was instated to help shorten waiting times and increase customer service throughout the state.

"These changes will make it easier for New Yorkers to use the Internet or mail to renew their driver's license and conduct a number of other transactions," DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala said.

With the new system, drivers can self-certify that they meet vision requirements the same way as with other medical issues. The self-certification of vision requirements only applies to drivers renewing a license excluding commercial drivers, who will still undergo medical and vision tests twice a year.

New York State DMV Spokesperson Jackie McGinness said the regulation should have no negative impacts for drivers, citing a period from 1993 to 2000 when vision testing was not required in New York.

"Anyone who goes to the DMV knows the lines can get too long," McGinness said. "I think people will understand that this is a convenience for them."

The New York State DMV said that six states, including Connecticut and Pennsylvania, do not require vision tests for license renewals and an additional eight states, including Massachusetts, allow drivers to self-certify vision requirements.

But a wearer of glasses herself, Russo said New York State already has some of the lowest vision requirements in the country and now allowing people to determine if their own eyesight is good enough is a mistake.

"Most people think they can see better than they actually do ," Russo said. "I know the state is trying to cut corners, but cutting corners when it comes to vision is a bad place to do that."

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