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New law changes vision-test requirements for online driver license renewal

PIERRE -- Online renewal of South Dakota driver licenses will be more convenient when a new law easing vision-test requirements takes effect on July 1.

The law removes the requirement for a statement from an ophthalmologist or optometrist as part of the renewal process for citizens under the age of 65. Persons 65 and older must still provide a vision statement.

"The change makes it much more convenient for our citizens under 65 to renew online or through the mail, eliminating a trip to the exam station,'' said Cindy Gerber, director of the Driver Licensing Program.

The 2013 Legislature authorized the Driver Licensing Program to implement an online and mail-in renewal process. Gerber said the vision change is an additional step that makes the system work effectively.

Some data changes on a driver license or replacement license also may be obtained online or by mail. Minors with restricted permits may upgrade those permits to full operators' license electronically or by mail.

Driver licenses are valid for five years. The law allows online renewal every other five-year cycle. License holders who prefer to renew at an exam station will take the standard vision test.

Online or mail-in renewal is available to citizens holding a federally compliant driver license. South Dakota began issuing those licenses on Dec. 31, 2009. Since licenses may be renewed up to 180 days prior to the expiration of a license, holders of federally compliant cards will be able to begin using the online system after July 1.

-- Source: S.D. Dept. of Public Safety