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SCDMV to require vision test for license renewal

The change starts on Oct. 1. Screening can be waived if a licensed eye care professional electronically submits proof of an examination within the past 12 months
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Starting on October 1 of this year, a vision screening will be required to renew any license or permit at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV).

The vision screening will be offered at all SCDMV branches. However, a screening can be waived if a licensed eye care professional electronically submits to the SCDMV a certificate of vision examination dated within the past 12 months.

Vision tests for first-time licenses and commercial driver's licenses continue to be required. 

"The need to have a vision test to renew your driver's license was taken out of state law when the state passed the REAL ID bill in 2017," said SCDMV Executive Director Kevin Shwedo. “Many existing drivers are already qualified to obtain REAL ID driver’s licenses online. If a driver wishes to obtain a REAL ID license online without having to take a vision test, the driver will need to do it by September 30, 2020. Starting October 1, 2020, a driver will have to visit an SCDMV branch office or have an eye professional electronically submit vision test results. The same is true for people whose non-REAL ID driver’s licenses are due for renewal.”

The in-person screen test can be waived if an SC licensed ophthalmologists and optometrists submit drivers' vision examination results to the SCDMV electronically. According to the DMV, only out-of-state eye care professionals can complete the paper version of the Certificate of Vision Examination (SCDMV Form 412-NC/412-CDL) and provide it to drivers (the exam must have occurred in the past 12 months).

THe SCDMV has also created an electronic vision screening portal. Partnered with the SC Society of Ophthalmology and SC Optometrist Physicians Association (SCOPA), the portal allows a South Carolina-licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist to electronically submit a patient’s vision examination results directly to the SCDMV.

Any customer who does not pass the in-person test will have to visit an eye care professional. The eye care professional must submit vision exam results electronically after assessing the customer’s vision. After a customer passes the vision exam, the customer will then be able to renew online or must return to an SCDMV branch office.



Drivers who wear contacts or glasses will have an "A" printed on their licenses. Customers who need to add or delete restrictions associated with their vision must visit an SCDMV branch. This cannot be completed online.

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