In brief

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:30

    Disaster survivors can get free legal assistance ALBANY — New York state residents facing legal issues arising out of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee can get free legal help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Legal Services program. Disaster Legal Services is a federal program operated by the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division providing free legal services to persons affected by presidentially declared major disasters. Disaster Legal Services can help survivors with bankruptcy, civil rights, employment law, landlord-tenant law, FEMA benefits claims, wills, trusts and probate matters, among other issues potentially arising from disaster. Any person affected by Irene or Lee who does not have the means to hire a lawyer is eligible. Call the Disaster Legal Services Hotline at 1-800-342-3661. The service is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers will be connected with attorneys who can provide over-the-phone assistance. When needed, callers will be referred to attorneys who can provide legal representation free of charge. All calls are completely confidential. In the last four years, the DLS program has provided legal help to more than 100,000 people affected by major disasters. The program is sponsored by the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association under an agreement with FEMA. Visit the ABA’s site at, the National Disaster Legal Aid site at or to find out more. New York no longer requires vision test for license renewals ALBANY — New York is dropping its requirement for vision tests to make it easier for drivers to renew licenses online or by mail. Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala said the change is one of several stemming from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for streamlining by state agencies. Another change is a new Internet application, “MyDMV,” which allows customers to set up personal online accounts to do business with DMV. Starting this week, drivers will “self-certify” that they meet the vision requirement when they renew. New licenses and commercial licenses will still require eye tests at a DMV office or by a doctor. Fiala said vision testing wasn’t required in New York from 1993-2000, and six other states don’t require eye tests for renewals. Online: