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Larchmont Residents Sound Off on 'Lax' DMV Policy

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Cathy Giattino and other residents think New York State should be implementing more stringent qualifications for driving and not taking them away, as the Department of Motor Vehicles did Wednesday.

Drivers in New York State no longer have to retake eye exams when renewing their licenses due to a new Internet application announced by the New York State DMV.

"I think it's a terrible idea," said Susan Harris, a Larchmont resident. "If you need glasses or contacts, you should be forced to wear them."

The "MyDMV" application was said 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 they do with other medical issues as of Wednesday. The self-certification of vision requirements only applies to drivers renewing a license every eight years and excludes 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."

Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R, C - Goldens Bridge) said though he understood the desire to speed up the renewal process, drivers could handle the time it takes to test vision.

"A reduction in sight can happen," Castelli said. "Overall, it's a bad idea. Eyesight is imperative to driver safety."

Castelli said the regulation was passed through private agencies and was not voted upon.

The "MyDMV" application also brings the services of changing addresses, receiving email reminders when vehicle registration and inspections are about to expire, downloading and printing driving records and allowing parents to monitor their teens' driving behaviors.

"I think we should be much more diligent about driving qualifications," Harris said.

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