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MVD closures mean you can wait it out

RENEW NOW OR LATER? That question comes from George, who emails, “as you have mentioned in your recent columns, a lot can be done on the MVD website, including renewing driver’s licenses, but not including obtaining a Real ID license. My license expires this month, and I planned to get a Real ID replacement, but the coronavirus has intervened.” (All state and private offices are closed, and a first-time Real ID requires you to present documents in person.)

And George wants to know if he simply renews online now with a standard license – which is not Real ID compliant and won’t get him on a plane come October 2021 – if he “will be able to ‘upgrade’ to a Real ID license after MVD offices reopen, or will I have to ‘eat’ the ‘regular’ renewal fee and start over?”

George sent his question to me as well as to the state Motor Vehicle Division via its new email helpline, And he got a same-day answer back from MVD that while he would have to pick up the cost of switching to a Real ID when offices reopen, there’s no need to renew right now if he does not want the standard license. The reply he received reads, in part:

“Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order that directs state police not to issue citations for registrations or licenses that expire from March 11 due to the fact that MVD field offices are closed and we cannot provide this service. Local law enforcement has been encouraged to do the same.”

So first-time Real ID folks and drivers over 79 who have to take an eye test need to wait for offices to reopen. Meanwhile, drivers can renew their Real ID licenses, their standard licenses and their vehicle registrations online.

For a full list of online services and more information, go to

WANTING MORE TIME WHEN MVD REOPENS: Ed Urbanski emails that the 30-day grace period for submitting vision and medical reports that MVD announced on its website “is simply not adequate. Under normal circumstances securing a (medical) appointment takes weeks if not months. Now that medical offices are closed there will be a tremendous backlog of patients.”

And he has specifics: “I rescheduled my annual wellness exam (from) April 2. The next available appointment was early July. My vision appointment on March 26 was canceled and the ophthalmologist’s office isn’t even taking appointments at the present time. Perhaps you could mention this to MVD?”

Done. Stay tuned as the state continues to respond to the ever-changing pandemic landscape.

ONE MORE TIME ON THE RENEWALS WITH EMISSIONS: For Bernalillo County drivers, some emissions-check businesses are still open, and you can renew online. But what if you are seriously self-isolating?

“Stuck Inside” emails: “I’m a 73-year-old guy with some underlying health issues. I registered my vehicle as required and paid and then was subsequently sent info from MVD saying an emissions test is required, but I am reluctant to risk to go out of my isolation to get the test. I then received notification I would have to get the test done within 30 days or be fined.”

“This is totally confusing and irritating.”

Charlie Moore, who handles information for the Taxation and Revenue Department, which is over MVD, says “people will not be suspended for registrations that expire during the closures and for some reasonable period of time afterward. About 1,700 of those suspension letters went out by accident. The program that generates them accidentally was switched on but has been shut down again. And those who did receive the letter are getting follow-up letters telling them that they are, in fact, covered by the executive order.”

IT’S DONATE LIFE MONTH: April is Donate Life Month, and here’s a reminder that you can become an organ donor when you renew/get your first driver’s license.

Nationally 114,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant; 20 die waiting each day. So far this year in New Mexico 15 organ and 168 tissue donors have provided 35 organs and 2,099 tissue grafts, according to the N.M. Donor Services website. That’s a lot of lives saved or improved.

MVD made the organ-donor question the second on the N.M. driver’s license application to encourage participation, according to a news release. “A total of 933,613 New Mexicans with driver’s licenses or state-issued identification cards are registered as donors.”

If you are not a donor, please do your part and make it one more.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.


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