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Coronavirus: California DMV extends expiring licenses to drivers over 70

Many drivers in California who are 70 years or older will get an automatic one-year extension on their driver’s licenses in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Motor Vehicles announced Monday.

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Those who have a noncommercial license that expires from March 1 to Dec. 31 of this year will get the extension.

This is being done to delay in-person visits to the DMV offices, which are required for that age group for license renewals. Seniors are more susceptible to serious complications from getting the coronavirus.

The DMV has taken steps to curb the virus, requiring customers to wear face coverings and providing them too its employees. But a glimpse at Fullerton’s DMV office on Monday showed the potential problem – long lines, albeit with customers spaced apart, reached into the parking lot on a day with temperatures in the mid-80s.

And the DMV has struggled to fill backlogged appointments, meant to severely cut down on wait times, and issue new ones.

Previously, the DMV had issued 120-day extensions to these drivers whose licenses expired March through July to avoid physical office visits out of health concerns. But with the again-surging numbers of people getting infected in some parts of California, the state agency took it a step further on Monday.

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More changes could be on the way, too.

“The DMV continues to streamline its processes to limit the time customers spend at an office,” the agency said Monday in a statement. “The DMV is also contemplating other ways to safely serve seniors.”

Drivers won’t automatically receive documentation citing the extension in the mail, the department said, although people can request official paper documentation of the extension online, at, starting on Wednesday, July 15. Those interested in the documentation should type “extension” into the search bar.

Law-enforcement agencies, the DMV said, have been notified that the state was extending the driver license deadline.

Further, the extensions won’t hurt the affected drivers if they travel by air. The Transportation Security Administration says it will accept licenses and state-issued IDs that expire after March 1 in 2020 for a year after the expiration date.

Robert Rosenthal’s license expires in December. The 83-year-old who lives in Studio City appreciated the department’s decision to go with a one-year extension.

“I think (DMV employees) do a hard job under difficult circumstances, and if the (licenses are) extended, great,” he said.

Though he did wonder if a year from now there might be a backup of people trying to renew their licenses. Perhaps letting this one group of drivers re-up online or by mail next year makes more sense, he figured.

“If this virus things keeps up, who knows what the world will be like,” Rosenthal said. “I think that for people who don’t have an accident or a moving violation, the DMV can maybe let (these seniors) do it once by mail.”

Those 70 or older who insist on renewing their licenses now can, if they want to wait in line.

“They would have to fill out an online application and come to a DMV office to complete the application,” said Anita Gore, a DMV deputy director. “No new appointments are currently available.”

The renewal deadline for drivers 69 years old and younger with licenses that expired between March and July is now July 3.

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