Bipartisan driver’s license renewal bills introduced

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson and Sen. Betty Jean Alexander have introduced legislation that would temporarily allow the secretary of state to provide extra one-year renewals for expiring driver’s licenses and personal identification cards without a branch visit to help deal with the backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their bills would also permanently increase the standard renewal period from four years to five years.

“Moving to a five-year schedule for driver’s licenses and state ID cards would decrease in-person branch office traffic for renewals by up to 20%,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “Instead of going in every eight years, people would go in every 10 years to get an eye exam and a new photo — similar to a U.S. passport.”

Senate Bill 1111 would allow Michigan residents to renew their driver’s licenses every five years without getting a new card instead of the current four-year limit. SB 1112 would apply the same extension to state ID cards.

“We must do what we can to ease the burden on Michigan families and the hardworking Secretary of State Office employees throughout our state,” said Alexander, D-Detroit. “By working together, we can help reduce the backlog of renewals created by the COVID-19 outbreak and make sure the secretary of state has the necessary resources to provide vital services.”

To ensure the reforms would be revenue neutral, the bills increase renewal fees proportionally. For example, driver’s license renewals would be $22.50 every five years instead of $18 every four years.

Under the bills, the new five-year schedule would start for driver’s licenses and state ID cards issued Jan. 1, 2022 and later. Until Dec. 31, 2021, the bills would allow the secretary of state to provide an extra one-year renewal to individuals who would otherwise have to come into a branch because they are currently completing their second four-year renewal.

SBs 1111 and 1112 have been referred to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for consideration.

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Editor’s note: A recent headshot photo of Sen. Johnson and other high-resolution press photos are available at https://www.senatorruthjohnson.com/press-photos/.