The recently announced policy change by State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Barbara Fiala allowing individuals renewing their driver's licenses to "self certify" that they meet the state's vision requirement puts motorists at risk and makes New York's roadways less safe, according to Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) who opposes the policy change. Leader Kolb today called for the new policy to be reversed and not merely put on hold.
The new DMV policy - which went into effect on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - is already facing widespread criticism from Leader Kolb, state legislators, County Clerks and the New York State Optometric Association for causing needless risk to motorists.
"Allowing motorists renewing a driver's license to 'self certify' their vision requirement is a bad policy that needs to be thrown into immediate reverse. I wrote Governor Cuomo asking that he do exactly this by directing State DMV Commissioner Fiala to rescind a bad policy that needlessly puts New York motorists at risk," Leader Kolb said.
"If this DMV policy is not rescinded outright, then we will move forward with legislation to undo it and ensure motorists have complete confidence that our roadways are as safe as possible," Leader Kolb stated.
In his correspondence to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Leader Kolb wrote the following:
"I write to request your immediate involvement in reversing an ill-advised State Department of Motor Vehicles policy change that will put motorists' lives at risk and undo decades of progress made toward New York's roadways being recognized as among the safest in our nation."
"Specifically, I am referring to DMV Commissioner Barbara Fiala's recent announcement that, beginning September 28, 2011, motorists seeking to renew their New York State Driver's Licenses will be allowed to "self certify" that they meet the vision requirement necessary to drive. Governor, this is a terrible idea that will needlessly put New Yorkers' lives in jeopardy.
For years, law enforcement, policymakers and safe driving advocates have worked tirelessly to improve motorist safety and ensure New York's roadways are among the most secure in the country. These efforts included passing the nation's first mandatory seat belt law back in 1984, along with enacting some of America's toughest laws against intoxicated driving and, most recently, distracted driving. All of these steps have made a positive difference as traffic fatalities in New York State have been on the decline.
However, this latest, inexplicable policy reversal by the State DMV could undo years of success by allowing motorists with questionable, poor and even bad eyesight to remain behind the wheel and continue driving when they clearly should not be doing so without corrective measures.
Besides legitimate concerns about its negative impact on public safety, this new policy being advanced by the State DMV will deprive local governments - many of whom are hard pressed to meet local needs due to state government's budget busting unfunded mandates - of much-needed revenue. We cannot afford to allow Albany's perpetual desire for more revenue to drive a poorly designed public policy that could put lives in jeopardy. That is unacceptable. I know that countless County Clerks across New York State join me in expressing these same reservations.
Governor, as the proud father of three young daughters, I know you are among the very strongest supporters of motorist safety and would never want any parent in New York State worried about whom their child is sharing the road with.
In the strongest possible terms, I am requesting that you instruct DMV Commissioner Fiala to immediately reverse this dangerous policy change. Additionally, DMV Commissioner Fiala should take proactive steps to ensure that any driver's license renewals that employed "self certification" since the new policy was enacted be promptly returned to motorists - at the DMV's expense - clearly noting that an eye examination is once again necessary.
Be assured that if DMV Commissioner Fiala does not take swift action to rectify this bad policy, my colleagues and I will advance non-partisan legislation that will correct an obvious mistake. Likewise, we will press forward in conducting rigorous legislative oversight and public hearings concerning DMV operations, including a thorough investigation into the genesis of this public policy change that needlessly puts the lives of New York motorists at risk."
Editor's Note: Click here for a copy of NYS Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb's correspondence to Governor Andrew Cuomo calling for a reversal of the State DMV's new policy allowing motorists to "self certify" that they meet the state's vision requirements when seeking renewal of their driver's licenses.