ALBANY — About 51,000 drivers statewide face a suspension of their licenses on Friday if they don’t comply with a COVID-19-related measure that allowed some drivers to defer their required vision test during the pandemic, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
Driving with a suspended license can result in a fine or, after a subsequent police stop, jail time.
The dilemma arises because of a measure adopted during the height of the pandemic that allowed motorists to temporarily self-certify — but not skip — the vision test requirement for renewing their licenses. It applied to drivers whose licenses expired between March 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021, the height of the pandemic, to limit crowds at DMV offices.
Anyone who failed to provide proof that their vision meets requirements for their driver’s license will have their license suspended Friday. At its height earlier this year, nearly 150,000 drivers risked suspension.
The deadline to complete the vision test at a DMV office and to submit it to avoid a license suspension expired Sunday. Any test taken at a DMV office now will require up to five business days for the test result to be processed, according to the department. Drivers also may take a vision test from one of the state’s approved-provider registry, which can send the results to the DMV. The state has a lookup portal to find approved providers at https://dmv.ny.gov/vision-registry-locator.
A driver also may get a test from a provider not included in the DMV registry. In these cases, the driver and provider of the vision test must complete a Vision Test Report, form MV619, which is available on the DMV website at https://dmv.ny.gov. The driver must then send the completed form to the DMV by mail to the License Production Bureau in Albany or electronically through the website.
A separate process for holders of commercial driver’s licenses is detailed at https://dmv.ny.gov/commercial-drivers/how-renew-cdl.
If stopped by police, the driver would face a ticket and still not be allowed to legally drive until a vision test is submitted and processed, which could take several days. If a driver is stopped a second time, he or she could face a misdemeanor of aggravated unlicensed operation, which carries a penalty of $200 to $300 and up to 30 days in jail.
The Department of Motor Vehicles had notified drivers who deferred their vision test during the pandemic through notices in April and in October along with an alert on the website.
To pass the DMV test without being required to wear glasses or contact lenses while driving, a license holder must have 20/40 vision or better in at least one eye without wearing corrective lenses.