CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Legislation to extend driver's license renewal cycles from five to eight years would save the state money and would be more convenient for the state's 1.4 million drivers, Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Steve Dale said Tuesday.
"It's going to assist our customers," Dale told the Senate Transportation Committee. "Instead of coming to the DMV once every five years, they get to come to DMV only once every eight years."
Dale said Virginia and Maryland recently extended driver's license renewals to eight-year cycles.
Afterward, Dale said he does not believe the bill (SB431), which Senate Transportation advanced Tuesday to the Senate Finance Committee, will present a problem by extending the time elderly drivers will retain their licenses.
Currently, he said, family members, doctors, and police officers can notify the DMV if they believe someone is no longer able to drive safely. The DMV can require those people to retake driving tests, and also require a doctor's clearance on any medical issues.
The bill would also put into law a policy the DMV adopted in November allowing drivers to chose either a federal Real ID-compliant license, or opt for a non-federal use license.
"We are finding drivers are overwhelmingly choosing the not-for-federal-use license," Dale said.
That license requires one proof of identity and one proof of residency, or less than half the documents necessary to obtain a Real ID license.
Enacted by Congress in 2005, Real ID licenses ultimately will be required to board commercial aircraft, and to enter federal courthouses and other federal facilities, but deadlines for enforcing the law have been repeatedly pushed back by at least eight years, to 2016, as many states are balking at complying with the mandate.
"The present status of Real ID is West Virginia is one of only 21 states that have complied," Dale said, adding, "Real ID is not being enforced anywhere."
Because of enhanced security features in Real ID licenses, Dale said each license costs the DMV about $9 more to produce than a conventional license. The bill would allow the DMV to charge an additional $10 fee for drivers who opt for a Real ID license.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.