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Kearns calls on state DMV to update license renewal notification letter

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Wed, Jun 27th 2018 09:40 am
Renewals turned away daily for improper documentation.
On Tuesday, Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns held a press conference, calling on the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to amend what he called "a significant mistake" with its license renewal notifications. The DMV, Kearns said, is failing to alert drivers of the appropriate documents required when applying for a "Real ID" or enhanced driver license.
Per the Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, any person renewing their driver license who has had a change of name, whether that be through marriage or a divorce, must provide an original or certified marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court-ordered document. Notifications sent by the state DMV to those needing to renew their driver license, or non-driver ID, fail to make the licensee aware of this requirement, Kearns said. This has resulted in people, primarily women who have changed their surname, being unable to complete their license renewal when upgrading to the "Real ID" or enhanced driver license.
"I understand that people's time is valuable, and that it is incredibly frustrating to come to the Auto Bureau, with all the documentation listed in the state's renewal notification, and then have to be turned away without completing this transaction," Kearns said. "The information sent out by the state of New York regarding license renewals is incomplete. I wish to emphasize that, if you are applying for an enhanced driver license or 'Real ID,' and you've changed your name, you must provide your marriage certificate or other documentation."
New York state began issuing "Real ID"-compliant identification in October. Since then, there have been daily occurrences at the local auto bureaus of customers not being able to complete their license renewal because of this requirement.
To help customers avoid standing in line without the proper paperwork, Kearns has posted new signage throughout the auto bureaus, alerting customers to the name change requirement.
"The Erie County auto bureaus serve as agents of the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. It is frustrating to have to turn away customers for not having the required name change documentation, when it is the state DMV that is failing to notify them of this requirement at the time of sending the license renewal notification," Kearns said. "I encourage people that, before they come to the auto bureaus, double-check that you have all of the required paperwork, including name-change documentation."
Kearns has also made license renewal information cards available at all auto bureaus and has included an identification proof check list on the Erie County clerk's website. Kearns will write to the commissioner of the state DMV, Theresa Egan, urging the department revise its license renewal notification to include the name-change document requirement.
To receive a "Real ID"-compliant driver license/non-driver ID, applicants must bring a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. or foreign passport with proof of lawful status in the U.S., a social security card or other proof of Social Security number, two proofs of state residency, and a marriage certificate, divorcee decree, or court-ordered document for proof of name change. This documentation, plus proof of U.S. citizenship, is required to receive an enhanced driver license.
According to the state DMV renewal schedule, Erie County auto bureaus will hit a record-number of transactions in 2018, as the eight-year license renewal cycle hits is peak. From 2017-18, license renewals have jumped from approximately 40,000 to 134,000, a year, a more than 300 percent increase.
Furthermore, all driver licenses, permits and ID cards will be required to be "Real ID"-compliant by Oct. 1 2020, to be allowed for domestic flights and access to federal facilities. 

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