DES MOINES (AP) — Iowans would be able to renew their driver's licenses online instead of visiting a designated renewal office under a measure unanimously approved by the Iowa Senate on Tuesday.
The measure, approved 48-0, would allow drivers between the ages of 18 and 72 to renew their driver's licenses through the State Department of Transportation's website without passing a vision test. Under current law, drivers must renew their licenses at a county treasurer or Transportation Department office.
Those who have license restrictions due to major eye problems such as glaucoma would still need to come in and get tested. The bill would limit use of the online service to every other license renewal to ensure that vision screenings are still an integral part of the process.
Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, amended the bill so that Iowans could wait eight years to renew their licenses instead of the current five years.
Because of the amendment, the bill goes back to the House for approval before hitting the governor's desk.
Bowman called the bill a top priority for the Transportation Department. “The department wants to increase efficiency by decreasing wait time for Iowans,” he said. “It will also be cost-effective in the long run.”
The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimated that 35 percent of Iowa drivers would use the service, which equates to a department savings of $1.2 million, equivalent to the salaries of 17 full-time clerks plus the costs to participating counties.
The Iowa House passed the bill last month 86-14.
Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said she voted against the bill because renewing online means that your driver's license photo isn't updated.
“I think that could be an enormous problem for law enforcement,” she said. “People change a great deal over a (five)-year period. ... People who are out to deceive the law and use ID for the wrong purposes, we are not putting safeguards in place to prevent that.”
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