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County Clerks Announce Opposition to NYS DMV Decision to Eliminate Vision Testing for Driver License Renewals

Thu, Sep 29 2011

Rochester – Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo, Cayuga County Clerk Susan Dwyer, Wayne County Clerk Michael Jankowski, Yates County Clerk Julie Betts, Steuben County Clerk Judy Hunter and Ontario County Clerk Jack Cooley today announced their strong opposition to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle administrative decision to eliminate vision testing for driver license renewals.


On Monday, September 26th, the NYS DMV announced with no prior notice to the community that effective Wednesday, September 28th it was eliminating the current vision test and medical certification requirement for driver license renewals that are processed in local DMV offices, by mail and online. The purpose of the vision test or medical certification from an eye care professional was to ensure that drivers met the appropriate vision requirements in order to safely operate a motor vehicle.


Now, drivers will only need to “self-certify” that they meet the vision requirements without truly knowing how well their vision is if they haven’t had a current eye exam or a quick vision test by reading an eye chart in a DMV office. This raises grave concerns about the impact on public safety and a potential increase in motor vehicle related accidents.


State DMV officials cited using technology as a way to improve customer service as the major reason for making this decision.


Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo said, “My fellow County Clerks and I pride ourselves on using technology to enhance customer service; however, effectively asking the public to choose technology over public safety presents a false choice. We should not, nor do we need to, put one above the other when we can have both. Clerks can work with the state DMV to find ways to use technology to improve customer service without sacrificing the safety of the people in our communities.”


Cayuga County Clerk Sue Dwyer said, “The State DMV has now stooped to a new low—they’ve overspent for many years and to create new revenue, they’ve decided the safety of NYS residents is no longer a priority! By not requiring a vision test in our offices they’ve not only put the safety of residents in jeopardy but they are also robbing our local DMV offices of millions of dollars that would have stayed right here in Central New York.”


Wayne County Clerk Michael Jankowski said, “Clearly this is a very bad idea when we consider the negative impact this could have on driver safety. Working together, we can find better ways to make the driver license renewal process more convenient to residents without presenting a dangerous situation on our roads and highways.”

Steuben County Clerk Judy Hunter said, “This is a ludicrous and irresponsible decision made by State DMV Administrators which makes absolutely no sense to us and people from all over this state. I am also very disappointed that County Clerks, medical professionals, law enforcement officials and the public were not thoroughly consulted before this decision, that could jeopardize people’s safety, was made.”


Dr. Michele Lagana, Vice President for the New York State Optometric Association and a Rochester-area optometrist said, “As an eye doctor, I am deeply concerned over the complete elimination of vision testing for renewal of driver’s licenses and the decision to rely instead on people self-certifying that their vision is adequate to operate a motor vehicle.  We believe that this change in practice will jeopardize the safety of the driving public, their passengers, pedestrians and licensed drivers themselves.”


County Clerks are calling upon the State DMV to immediately reverse their decision to eliminate the current vision testing procedure to ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians throughout New York State.


New York State Assemblyman Bill Reilich is submitting legislation to protect drivers and pedestrians by bringing back vision testing for license renewals under a state law. Assemblyman Reilich has offered to have Dinolfo and her colleagues review the draft bill before it’s submitted to get input from the County Clerks.


Ontario County Clerk Jack Cooley, Yates County Clerk Julie Betts, Ontario Deputy Clerk Matthew Hoose, Doug Nordquist, Chair, Law Enforcement Council, David DiCaro, Gates Police Chief and Dr. Brian Connolly, a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Rochester-area ophthalmologist were also in attendance to express their concerns on this issue.