Topic:
ELDERLY; STATISTICAL INFORMATION; DRIVER EDUCATION; DRIVER LICENSES; LEGISLATION;
Location:
MOTOR VEHICLES - LICENSES;

OLR Research Report


November 22, 2005

 

2005-R-0882

ELDERLY DRIVING RESTRICTIONS AND MANDATORY TESTING REQUIREMENTS

By: Janet L. Kaminski, Associate Legislative Attorney

You asked if Connecticut has any restrictions on or mandatory testing requirements for elderly drivers and, if not, if other states do. (This memo addresses testing requirements for private passenger vehicles; additional requirements may apply to other types of licenses.)

SUMMARY

Connecticut has no special requirements that apply only to elderly drivers renewing drivers' licenses, but anyone who is age 65 or older has the option to renew his license for a two-year period, rather than the normal six-year period (CGS 14-41a(a)). This shorter renewal period is not mandatory; it is at the licensee's option.

Connecticut law requires every licensee, regardless of age, to undergo a vision screening test prior to every second license renewal (CGS 14-41(a)). Implementation of this requirement has been repeatedly postponed, most recently to July 1, 2007 (PA 05-3, 26, June Spec. Sess.).

Connecticut law authorizes the DMV commissioner to issue licenses with any limitation he deems advisable to licensees, regardless of age (e.g., daytime driving only, driving only while using corrective lenses, driving only while using an operable hearing aid) (CGS 14-36(e)(4)).

Connecticut law also authorizes the DMV commissioner to waive the requirement that a driver's license bear a picture of the licensee for a license issued to a person age 65 or older. The licensee must request this waiver in writing and demonstrate hardship, including the distance from his home to a DMV branch office offering license renewal services (CGS 14-14a(b)).

Most states require license renewal applicants to appear in person and pass a vision test, regardless of the applicant's age. The main difference among states is the length of time permitted between renewals and if there are special provisions for older drivers. Renewal procedures for older drivers include accelerated renewal cycles, a requirement that they renew a license in person rather than by mail or electronically, and testing not routinely required of younger drivers (e.g., vision or road tests). Many states authorize licensing agencies to require renewal applicants to undergo medical examinations or retake the standard licensing tests to ensure they are fit to operate a motor vehicle safely.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, as of October 2005, the District of Columbia and 12 states have special requirements regarding vision testing for older license renewal applicants (Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia). Four states (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia require older license applicants to be road tested. Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii have provisions for older applicants to pass a written knowledge test. Six states (Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, and Pennsylvania) and the District of Columbia require older applicants to take a medical test in some circumstances. Nine states (California, Delaware, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia) require doctors to report a medical condition that can impair an older person's driving.

LIMITED LICENSES IN CONNECTICUT

Connecticut law authorizes the DMV commissioner to issue licenses with any limitation he deems advisable to licensees, regardless of age (CGS 14-36(e)(4)). In issuing a limited license, the commissioner considers the person's ability and competence, health conditions, accident record, and driving history. He also considers any recommendation made by (1) a physician who has examined the person and (2) the DMV Medical Advisory Board.

A limited license may contain one or more of the following driving limitations, which must be indicated on the license:

1. only during daylight;

2. only when using corrective lenses as prescribed by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist;

3. only on roads that are not limited access highways;

4. only with a motor vehicle with an automatic transmission;

5. only with a motor vehicle equipped with external mirrors located on both sides of the vehicle to reflect to the driver a view of the roadway of at least 200 feet to the rear;

6. only with a motor vehicle having special controls or equipment; or

7. only when using an operable hearing aid.

Whenever the commissioner has reason to believe that a person's license should be subject to limitation, the commissioner may require him to take a driving test to determine his ability to operate a vehicle safely (Conn. Agencies Regs. 14-36-4).

LICENSE RENEWAL TESTING REQUIREMENTS IN OTHER STATES

Table 1 provides other states' license renewal time periods, including special provisions for older drivers. Table 2 describes other states' license renewal testing provisions for drivers of any age and specific requirements for older drivers.

Table 1: Other States' License Renewal Cycle and Special Provisions for Older Drivers (May 2005)

State

Length of Renewal Cycle

Special Provisions for Older Drivers

Accelerated Renewal

Other Provisions

Alabama

4 yr.

   

Alaska

5 yr.

 

Mail renewal not available to people 69 and older and to people whose prior renewal was by mail.

Arizona1

Until age 65

5 yr. for people 65 and older

People 70 and older may not renew by mail.

Arkansas

4 yr.

   

California

5 yr.

 

At age 70, mail renewal is prohibited. No more than two sequential mail renewals are permitted, regardless of age.

Colorado

10 yr.

5 yr. for people 61 and older

Mail or electronic renewal not available to people age 61 and older or (2) whose prior renewal was electronic or by mail.

Delaware

5 yr.

   

District of Columbia

5 yr.

   

Florida2

6 yr. with clean record; 4 yr. otherwise

   

Georgia

5 yr.

   

Hawaii

6 yr.

2 yr. for people 72 and older

 

Idaho

4 yr.

Drivers ages 21-62 have the choice of a 4- or 8-yr. license; drivers 63 and older will receive a 4-yr. license

 

Illinois

4 yr.

2 yr. for drivers ages 81-86; 1 yr. for drivers 87 and older

 

Indiana

4 yr.

3 yr. for drivers 75 and older

 

Iowa

5 yr.

2 yr. for drivers 70 and older

 

Kansas

6 yr.

4 yr. for drivers 65 and older

 

Kentucky

4 yr.

   

Louisiana

4 yr.

 

Mail renewal not available to people 70 and older and to people whose prior renewal was by mail.

Maine

6 yr.

4 yr. for drivers 65 and older

 

Maryland3

5 yr.

   

Massachusetts3

5 yr.

   

Michigan

4 yr.

   

Minnesota3

4 yr.

   

Mississippi

4 yr.

   

Missouri

6 yr.

3 yr. for drivers 70 and older and 21 and younger

 

Table 1: Continued

State

Length of Renewal Cycle

Special Provisions for Older Drivers

Accelerated Renewal

Other Provisions

Montana

8 yr., 4yr. if by mail, or on 75th birthday, whichever occurs first

4 yr. for drivers 75 and older

A person may not renew by mail for consecutive terms.

Nebraska

5 yr.

   

Nevada3

4 yr.

 

Applicants for mail renewal age 71 and older must include a medical report.

New Hampshire

5 yr.

   

New Jersey

4 yr.

   

New Mexico

4 or 8 yr. at driver's option

4 yrs. for drivers who would turn 75 in the last half of an 8-yr. renewal cycle

 

New York

5 yr.

   

North Carolina

5 yr.

   

North Dakota

4 yr.

   

Ohio

4 yr.

   

Oklahoma

4 yr.

   

Oregon

8 yr.

   

Pennsylvania

4 yr.

   

Rhode Island

5 yr.

2 yr. for drivers 70 and older

 

South Carolina

10 yr.

5 yr. for drivers 65 and older

 

South Dakota

5 yr.

   

Tennessee

5 yr.

   

Texas

6 yr.

   

Utah

5 yr.

   

Vermont

4 yr.

   

Virginia

5 yr.

   

Washington

5 yr.

   

West Virginia

5 yr.

   

Wisconsin

8 yr.

   

Wyoming

4 yr.

   

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (http://www.hwysafety.org/laws/state_laws/older_drivers.html.)

1In Arizona, the license is valid until age 65. Any person 65 years and older who is renewing by mail must submit a vision test verification form, provided by the department, or verification of an examination of the applicant's eyesight. The vision test or examination must be conducted not more than 3 months before.

2In Florida, only two successive renewals may be made electronically or by mail, regardless of age.

3Some states' licensing laws specifically prohibit licensing administrators from treating people differently solely by virtue of advanced age. Maryland law specifies that age alone is not grounds for reexamination of drivers; applicants for an initial license age 70 and older must provide proof of previous satisfactory operation of a vehicle or physician's certificate of fitness. Massachusetts law prohibits discrimination by reason of age with regard to licensing. Minnesota and Nevada law specify that age alone is not a justification for reexamination.

Table 2: Other States' License Renewal Testing Requirements

(October 2005)

State

Requires renewal applicants of all ages to retest (1)

Beginning age at which state requires older drivers to pass tests for license renewal

Doctor must report medical condition (2)


Vision

Road

Knowledge

Medical

Vision

Road

Knowledge

Medical

 

Alabama

                 

Alaska

X

(3)

X

           

Arizona

X

(3)

   

65

       

Arkansas

X

               

California

X

(3)

X

(3)

       

X (4)

Colorado

X

(3)

(3)

X

         

Delaware

 

(3)

(3)

(3)

(3)

(3)

(3)

(3)

X

District of Columbia

       

70

75

75

70

 

Florida

X

(3)

(3)

 

80

       

Georgia

X

   

(3)

64

     

X

Hawaii

X

(3)

 

(3)

 

(3)

(3)

(3)

 

Idaho

X

(3)

 

(3)

         

Illinois

(5)

 

X

(3)

 

75

     

Indiana

     

(3)

     

(3)

 

Iowa

 

(3)

(3)

(3)

         

Kansas

X

(3)

X

           

Kentucky

 

(3)

 

(3)

         

Louisiana

X

(3)

X

           

Maine

       

40, 62 (6)

       

Maryland

X

(3)

(3)

 

40

   

(3)

 

Massachusetts

                 

Michigan

X

(3)

X

(3)

         

Minnesota

X

 

X

           

Mississippi

 

(3)

(3)

           

Missouri

X

               

Montana

X

(3)

             

Nebraska

X

(3)

(3)

           

Nevada

X (7)

(3)

(3)

 

65

   

71 (8)

X

New Hampshire

X

       

75

     

New Jersey

(9)

             

X

Table 2: Continued

State

Requires renewal applicants of all ages to retest (1)

Beginning age at which state requires older drivers to pass tests for license renewal

Doctor must report medical condition (2)


Vision

Road

Knowledge

Medical

Vision

Road

Knowledge

Medical

 

New Mexico

                 

New York

 

(3)

(3)

(3)

         

North Carolina

X

(3)

X

(3)(10)

         

North Dakota

X

(3)

(3)

           

Ohio

X

(3)

(3)

(3)

         

Oklahoma

(9)

               

Oregon

       

50

     

X

Pennsylvania

(11)

   

(8)

45 (12)

   

45 (12)

X

Rhode Island

X

(3)

 

(3)

         

South Carolina

X (13)

(3)

(3)

(3)

65

       

South Dakota

X

               

Tennessee

(14)

               

Texas

X

   

(3)

         

Utah

 

(3)

(3)

X

65

     

X

Vermont

                 

Virginia

X

 

(3)

 

80

       

Washington

(3)

(3)

(3)

X

         

West Virginia

               

X

Wisconsin

 

(3)

 

(3)

         

Wyoming

X

(3)

(3)

           

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration; AARP; American Automobile Association; American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators; Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (See Insurance Information Institute http://www.iii.org/media/hottopics/insurance/olderdrivers/.)

1Periodic retests. Some states will waive vision retests for mail renewal or clean-record drivers.

2Physicians must report physical conditions that might impair driving skills.

3Retesting only for cause (e.g., after specific number of accidents or other points and infractions, for specific physical conditions, sometimes at examiner's discretion).

4California specifically requires doctors to report a diagnosis of dementia.

5Illinois requires vision re-examination every eight years.

6In Maine, vision tests are required for the first renewal at age 40, at every second renewal after age 40, and at every renewal after age 62.

7In Nevada, vision tests are required except for in-state renewals by mail, unless the applicant is over age 70.

8If renewing by mail.

9In New Jersey and Oklahoma, 10% of all renewals are screened.

10In North Carolina, the Division of Motor Vehicles may not require a person age 60 or older to parallel park as part of a road test.

11In Pennsylvania, 10% of drivers age 45 or older are randomly chosen for medical test, vision test, or both.

12Random re-examination at specified age.

13In South Carolina, beginning October 1, 2008, every licensee is required to submit to a vision test every 5 years.

14Tennessee will retest at renewal for non-specified cause.

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