BISMARCK — North Dakotans between 65 and 70 could soon be able to renew their driver’s license online, should House Bill 1102 pass in the Senate.

The bill would increase the age of online renewal from under 65 to under 70 for every other renewal cycle.

Brad Schaffer, director of drivers licenses for the North Dakota Department of Transportation, said on Feb. 11 that North Dakotans over 65 had asked for the ability to renew online during the pandemic. The department “received many calls from concerned citizens from the high-risk age group, as to why they could not renew online,” he said.

The bill was voted as a do pass in the Senate Transportation Committee, after already passing in the House.

Schaffer said extending the age group would allow for 40,000 more licensed North Dakotans to renew their licenses online.

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“The ability to drive a car is not determined by age, but on the ability of each driver,” he said.

Schaffer said a decline in driving ability can possibly begin at 72 years old, but many drivers drive safely into their 80s.

Opposition to the bill in the House Transportation Committee in January included testimony that eye disease can be age-related and an issue for online renewal.

However, Schaffer said online renewal can only be done every other renewal cycle, and those already diagnosed with an eyesight restriction on their license need to submit a doctor's note with their online renewal.

North Dakota’s neighbors all have similar requirements in place, with South Dakota and Minnesota having no maximum age and Montana having a maximum of 67 years old for licensed drivers renewing online.

“Increasing the age to under 70 will increase the number of drivers who can safely renew online from 80% to 87%,” he said.