Eligible drivers between the ages of 18 and 72 years would be eligible to renew their Iowa operator’s licenses electronically every other time under legislation that cleared the Iowa Senate on Tuesday.
Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, said authorizing online driver’s license renewals would reduce wait time for Iowans and save the state Department of Transportation an estimated $1.2 million in road-use tax funds via the efficiencies that the provisions in House File 355 would allow.
Senators voted 48-0 to approve an amended version of the bill and sent it back to the Iowa House, which could ship the measure to Gov. Terry Branstad for his consideration. The bill would take effect upon when it is signed by the governor.
Lawmakers passed similar language last session to authorize online license renewals, but the provision was included in a multi-pronged government efficiency bill that was vetoed by Branstad because he objected to language unrelated to the licensing change.
Bowman said initiating driver’s license renewals electronically is the DOT’s No. 1 legislative priority this session. Currently, licenses are issued and renewed at 81 county treasurer’s offices and 19 DOT driver’s license stations.
“The department wants to increase efficiency by decreasing wait times for Iowans,” Bowman said. The agency estimates that about 35 percent of all Iowans will choose the online option when they renew their licenses in the future.
“It doesn’t require you to do it. It gives you that option, so people that still enjoy going to the DOT or the courthouse may still do that,” he said. “It gives Iowans a great option and will reduce that wait time at the DOT.”
H.F. 355 requires Iowans who have vision impairments or who seek to change a vision restriction on their license to renew it in person. The Senate amended the bill to indicate an online renewal could only happen every other time and included transitional language so the change will be staggered in the coming years so the DOT doesn’t experience lag periods for license renewals.
Earlier this year, lawmakers approved a measure that extended the maximum number of years for an Iowa diver’s license five years to eight years.
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