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Over-40 Maryland Drivers Can Now Renew Licenses at Home

An online portal is helping drivers over age 40 renew their driver's licenses electronically.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) now offers the option of submitting eye tests electronically so the state's over-40 drivers no longer need visit the MVA's offices just to renew their licenses.

Thanks to a partnership between the MVA, the Maryland Optometric Association and NIC, a government e-services provider, an online portal was created so that vision providers could submit vision certifications directly to the MVA. Due to a statutory requirement, drivers over age 40 must pass a vision screening test in Maryland.

Before the new system went online, renewing a driver's license was an obstacle for those Maryland residents who had to take the test. Instead of just mailing in renewal forms, they had to come into an MVA office and take the vision exam at one of the MVA’s frontline counters.

Now a driver can take the vision test at their optometrist’s office, have them submit the information and easily go online and renew their driver’s license.

The MVA had to overcome a number of initial challenges to get the portal online. John Kuo, administrator of the Maryland MVA, said he was concerned that the optometrists would not be interested in participating. But after early discussions, the association jumped aboard quickly.

Fraud was also a concern, but the MVA was able to work with NIC and the optometrists to set up the program in a way that ensures the accuracy of the information collected.

"The records come directly from the eye vision providers so there is no opportunity for fraudulent documentation to be submitted," Kuo said. "Each vision provider has a business identification number that is submitted as part of the registration to be part of the program."

According to Kuo, the online vision certification capabilities are meeting with strong support. He said the MVA has 355 optometry providers and they have sent approximately 2,500 vision certifications through the portal. Kuo also believes the numbers will go up dramatically as information gets out about the program.

Marketing of the new portal has just begun. Janet Grard, general manager of NIC Maryland said once a provider enrolls in the system, the MVA includes the business’ information on the portal and sends out a packet that includes a decal to display to tell passers-by that it’s an MVA-licensed vision provider.

The Maryland MVA has been engaged in transforming the way it conducts business and how it delivers services to its customers for a very long time. Kuo explained that the MVA has spent over 10 years expanding its online services and rolling out self-service kiosks.

"We want to encourage customers not to visit the MVA branch office if they can make their transaction through our alternative service delivery options," Kuo said.

Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines from 2011 to mid-2015.