O'Mara: State should immediately waive fee for veteran designation on driver licenses

Thomas F. O'Mara

October 22, 2013

Albany, N.Y., October 18—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C-Big Flats) today urged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to take immediate steps to direct the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to waive a state fee for veterans who want a newly created Veterans ID placed on their state driver license before the expiration date of their current license.

O'Mara said that if the governor won’t or can’t do it on his own, he’ll work with his Senate and Assembly colleagues to enact legislation waiving the fee.

“The state needs to make sure that this special designation is available to our veterans free of charge, at any time,” said O’Mara.

[read more in the Star-Gazette]

Under a new law that O’Mara co-sponsored in 2012 (S.6799/A.9611, Chapter 487 of the Laws of 2012), which was unanimously approved by the Senate and Assembly and recently took effect, New York State veterans now have the option of having their status as a veteran indicated on their New York State driver license, permit or non-driver identification card.

The newly effective law directs the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to make the veteran’s status available to all honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Forces who apply for the designation on a DMV-issued photo document.  

There’s no charge for veterans requesting the designation at the time of their license renewal.  But veterans seeking the designation before the date of their regularly scheduled renewal are being charged a $12.50 “amendment fee.” 

County clerks around the state, including in Steuben and Yates counties, are protesting the state fee.

O’Mara agrees.

“We should have made it unmistakably clear at the time this law was enacted in 2012 that  veterans could request and receive this designation free of charge, at any time. But the law doesn’t make that clear and now we have to fix it, the sooner the better,” said O’Mara.  “This law was intended to be one more way to help honor veterans and to help ensure that we’re making the services and benefits our veterans have earned and deserve readily available and easily accessible.   That should be provided to every eligible veteran at no cost.”

Supporters of the new law note, for example, that many local businesses across the state currently provide discounts to veterans. The driver license Veteran ID option makes it simpler and more convenient for veterans to show and verify to a business their status as veterans without having to carry multiple forms of identification.

For more information on the veteran’s status option, visit the DMV website at http://www.dmv.ny.gov/armedforces.htm#vetstat.