Q. Earlier this year, because of COVID-19, the Department of Motor Vehicles gave drivers age 70 and older whose licenses were expiring a one-year extension for showing up in person at a DMV office for a renewal. At age 73, I am staying out of public places because of a concern over the virus. My driver license expires in January. Do you know if the DMV has any plans to extend this extension for drivers like me?
– Michael Blessing, Santa Clarita
A. Michael, you are a Blessing indeed.
While digging around in his electronic mailbag this week, Honk came across Michael’s initial email and a subsequent one. After firing off the first missive, he had found the answer on the DMV’s website – an update that Honk and some others in the media had missed:
In late October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order saying that those whose noncommercial driver licenses expired on or after this past March 1 and are age 70 or older can renew online or via the mail.
This policy is expected to continue on until the coronavirus is defeated, or at least under control.
The DMV aims to make its website ready to handle such renewals beginning on Dec. 6, if you go that route.
Previously, as Michael alludes to, the DMV had given automatic extensions to those 70 and older whose licenses expired this year on or after March 1, intending to keep them out of crowded, enclosed field offices until next year. These motorists, too, can now renew online.
This new waiver means that, finally, most California drivers can renew online or by mail (Your renewal notice might incorrectly say an office visit is a must). Those younger than 70 with noncommercial licenses were already allowed to renew online.
Yes, California does have more requirements for older drivers, figuring age can affect motorists’ abilities, which is why it lagged on giving them the option to just renew online or in the mail.
Now, there might be a few circumstances when a motorist with a noncommercial driver license can’t renew online. Honk has asked the DMV headquarters for some answers and hopes to update those here in Honkland soon on those particulars.
Q. Mr. Honk: What is the logical justification of the Orange County traffic gods for keeping active the freeway onramp stop lights during rush hour? I get on the I-405 in Irvine and traffic is still nowhere near as heavy as it used to be before the pandemic. Forcing drivers to stop when they can safely and easily merge into traffic seems pointless. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the lights to be active only for stretches of freeway in Orange County that are back to heavy rush-hour traffic, if there are any?
– Mike DiChiara, Irvine
A. In Orange County, ramp meters are set based on data for past traffic flow, with inspectors going into the field to check on the meters.
A Caltrans spokesperson said the onramp meters were adjusted in April in Orange County for the downturn in traffic caused by the pandemic, with most turned off for months and then turned back on as traffic picked back up.
Eventually, Orange County will join other niches of the state and link its meters to real-time traffic flow, banking off sensors in freeway lanes and other gadgets. So far, there isn’t a date for when the county’s system will be converted.
The goal of ramp meters, by the way, is to space out vehicles so they slide into traffic and not lead to further gridlock.
To ask Honk questions, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk. Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk
Source: Orange County Register