The Iowa Department of Transportation plans to start a five-year plan to spread out the renewal dates for driver’s licenses. DOT Motor Vehicle Division director, Mark Lowe, says it’s part of the effort to transition from five-year to eight-year licenses as directed by lawmakers. “Right now we have really significant swings in our renewal volumes and we are in a peak year right now. They range from as high as 530,000 in some years down to about 275,000,” Lowe says.
In order to spread out the renewals, licenses will be issued with four different lengths. “The system will assign a person a five, six, seven or eight year license according to the percentages we determine for each year,” Lowe explains. “By the time we get to the end of it starting in 2019, we will have a very even distribution across an eight-year renewal cycle.”
The hope is the even distribution of renewals will also make it so the lines at the driver’s license station aren’t longer in one year than another. “When we have those big swings, it really strains our service delivery in those peak years, and then in low years we are really understaffed,” Lowe says. “So by evening that out we’ll be able to even out our resource distribution and provided better service at the same time.” He says knowing how many staff to have on hand will save them money.
There are some restrictions on the eight-year license as the regulations regarding drivers under 18 and temporary foreign nationals will stay in place. Some of the state’s oldest drivers will not be eligible for a long-term license. “If you are 72 or over, then the maximum license we can issue you is two years,” Lowe says. He says that’s a safety issue as they find drivers over 72 start to have more accidents and they want to assess their overall condition to drive more frequently.
Lowe says they will still face another peak period of license renewals before the plan starts to even things out. “We will see early on the predominance of five-year licenses and then in 2017 we are going to see a shift to a predominance of eight-year licenses,” Lowe says. It doesn’t matter how many years you get on your new license, the cost will stay at $4 for each year.
The DOT estimates the changes will save drivers $3.4-million annually in reduced travel and time to get licenses. And it’s expected to save the department about $1.8-million annually in production costs for licenses. For more information, got to the Iowa DOT’s website. The DOT has also produced a video explaining the changes.