Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in New York

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The state of New York offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the past, or are current active military members.

Driver’s license veteran designation

Qualified United States military veterans who were honorably discharged and have a NYS driver license or non-driver photo ID card may apply to have the word ‘Veteran’ printed on the upper left hand corner of your photo document. This allows you to quickly and easily be identified as a Veteran for businesses and organizations who recognize that designation. Regular transaction fees would apply to receive a card, but there are no additional fees to add this designation if you are applying during a renewal period.

Veteran status requires that you send proof of honorable discharge either via mail or to a local DMV office; either photocopies of the below documents or originals are acceptable in person. The following documents are acceptable proof:

  • Form DD-214 or Form DD-215 (Correction form) indicating honorable discharge

  • “Enlisted Separation Paper” or Honorable Discharge Form WD AGO 52, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 52-55, NAVPERS 552, NAVMC 78PD or NAVCG 552 if discharged prior to January 1, 1950

Application can be completed by mail when you renew your driver’s license by including a photocopy of your honorable discharge papers. Online and phone applications are not accepted, and once verified—your Veteran status will be printed on all subsequent NYS DMV photo documentation.

Military honor plates

New York offers a wide variety of distinguished military honor license plates commemorating the different military branches, service medals, specific campaigns, and individual battles. Eligibility for each of these plates requires certain criteria be met, including a letter from your Commanding Officer as well as a completed Application for Military and Veteran Custom Plates (MV-412), proof of current or past military service (honorable discharge), proof of having participated in a specific battle, or discharge papers or U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs documentation of the award received.

Available military plate designs:

  • Air Force Reserve

  • Air National Guard

  • Airborne

  • Army National Guard

  • Army Reserve

  • Coast Guard Auxiliary

  • Coast Guard Reserve

  • Marine Corps Reserve

  • Naval Militia

  • Navy Reserve

  • State Guard

  • US Naval Armed Guard

  • American Legion

  • Disabled American Veteran (vehicle)

  • Disabled American Veteran (motorcycle)

  • Disabled Veteran

  • Eighth Air Force Historical Society

  • Former Prisoner of War

  • Gold Star Mother

  • Jewish War Veterans of America

  • Marine Corps League

  • Saratoga National Cemetery Honor Guard Association

  • United States Military Academy - West Point

  • US Submarine Veterans

  • US Veteran (vehicle)

  • US Veteran (motorcycle)

  • Veterans of Foreign Wars

  • Vietnam Veterans of America

  • 40 & 8 - The Grande Voiture du New York, La Societe Des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux

  • Korean War Veterans

  • Pearl Harbor Survivor

  • Persian Gulf Veteran

  • Vietnam Veteran (vehicle)

  • Vietnam Veteran (motorcycle)

  • War on Terror Veteran

  • World War II Veterans

There are additional charges for each plate; charges vary by plate. You can also add personalization to many of the plates that are available from the State of New York. Annual renewal fees may also vary; with some non-personalized plates having a free renewal, while others have a nominal charge.

Military skills test waiver

As of 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted the Commercial Learner’s Permit rule. This rule contains a provision authorizing SDLAs (State Driver Licensing Agencies) to allow U.S. Military drivers to leverage their service-related truck driving experience in lieu of the skills test to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver License). In order to be eligible to skip this portion of the testing process the driver must apply within a year of leaving a military position that required them to operate a commercial vehicle. The driver must have had two years such experience in order to qualify for the waiver program.

For New York, applicants must meet the following requirements before they can apply for the CDL skills road test waiver:

  • Have a valid New York State driver license or a valid out of state license that will be replaced with the New York State driver license

  • Meet all other requirements for a NY CDL license

  • Be either active duty military or New York National Guard, with responsibilities that require operating a CMV

  • Have operated a CMV of a similar type for at least the immediate two prior years before either application date or military discharge date.

Once you are certain that you qualify, you will need to present the following documentation at a New York State DMV Office:

  • Completed form CDL-102, the CDL Certification for Military Skills Test waiver

  • Valid NYS or out-of-state driver license

  • Medical certificate (if required)

  • Proof of military service as listed on form CDL-102

While the practical portion of the exam will be waived, you will still be required to pass all applicable written tests, as well as paying the permit and licensing fee. There is a range of offenses that can disqualify military personnel from participating in the skills waiver program; these include things like DUI, hit-and-run accidents, or using a CMV to commit a felony.

The Military Skills Test Waiver program in New York and almost every other state is the result of collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in order to make the process of getting a CDL easier for veterans. Military personnel with applicable experience can download and print the waiver here.

Active or veteran military personnel who wish to find out more about veteran and military driver laws and benefits in New York can consult the state’s motor vehicle division website here.

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