Question: My drivers license is about to expire, and I am worried about going to the DMV right now. What can I do?
Many people share your worries right now. A trip to the DMV is usually dreaded even on a good day and now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to avoid any crowded place where we may have to wait inside for lengths of time. Thankfully, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is doing some things to help us avoid those trips right now.
For people who are age 70 and older that have licenses set to expire any time from March to December of 2020, the CA DMV is issuing an automatic one-year renewal. The license will be good for one year from the original expiration date. While these renewals are automatic, you will not get a new paper license in the mail unless you request one. You can go to the DMV website and request one here: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv-virtual-office/temporary-driver-license-extension/temporary-driver-license-extension-form/ The DMV has notified law enforcement about the extensions so requesting a paper extension is not required.
For people age 69 or younger, the eligibility to renew online has been expanded. You can check the website and see if you are eligible. The DMV website now allows for more digital options for things that previously were required to be done in person. You can even upload documents online to reduce your time in office.
If you do have to go into the DMV, you can be assured they have created new safety measures including requiring use of face masks and 6 feet apart distancing. If you must wait for service, you can opt to provide a cell phone number and receive a text when it is your turn, allowing you to wait outside of the building.
To make sure you receive all the updates provided by the CA DMV since things do keep changing, you can subscribe to their email alerts at https://www.emailalert.dmv.ca.gov/DMVEmail_Alert/
For anyone over the age of 70, your renewal will also include a written test. While you can rest assured this has been delayed a year, knowing the test is coming can cause a lot of anxiety. Senior Concerns offers a seminar called “Will You Pass Your Next Drivers Test: Everything You Need to Know to be Prepared”. The next seminar will be held over the Zoom platform on Tuesday, August 11th from 4-5pm. It is presented by Tressa Thompson who is a Senior Ombudsman with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Her presentation will include tips on how to study for the written test, what to expect at the DMV, as well as information on the REAL ID. To register please go to https://www.seniorconcerns.org/seminars/ and scroll down to find the link to register for this seminar.
The DMV Ombudsman program is set up with a special interest in addressing the concerns of senior drivers. The DMV states that this role “ensures that senior drivers are treated fairly, consistent with laws and regulations, and with the dignity and respect they deserve.” It is fortunate that we have this role in place to watch out for our older adult drivers and assist in difficult cases.
While renewing licenses and dealing with the DMV can often cause stress, we are fortunate that due to the current pandemic there have been changes made to make these processes easier.
Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at email@example.com.