Topic:
DRIVER LICENSES; ELDERLY;
Location:
MOTOR VEHICLES - LICENSES;

OLR Research Report


July 28, 2006

 

2006-R-0457

REQUIREMENTS IN OTHER STATES FOR ELDERLY DRIVERS RENEWING DRIVERS' LICENSES

By: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Analyst

You asked what special requirements other states have with regard to elderly drivers who are renewing their drivers' licenses.

SUMMARY

There are relatively few states that have retesting requirements for license renewal that are aimed strictly at drivers in older age groups. Only two states, Illinois and New Hampshire require a road test (at age 75). A road test may be administered at age 75 in the District of Columbia, but it is not mandatory. Although 10 states require only drivers who have reached a certain age to have a vision test before license renewal, there is little consistency with respect to the age threshold at which the requirement applies. Two states begin vision testing at age 40, one at age 50, and the others at anywhere from age 64 to age 80.

Other types of age-based conditions involve states that either prohibit mail renewal by elderly drivers (five states) or make older drivers renew their licenses at more frequent intervals than other drivers (15 states).

But four states, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Nevada, have laws explicitly stating that age alone may not be considered justification for reexamination.

STATES WITH RETESTING REQUIREMENTS SPECIFIC TO OLDER DRIVERS

Separate requirements for license renewal based strictly on age are not all that common in other states and, in fact, the laws in a few states explicitly state that age alone is not acceptable grounds for driver reexamination. The most common type of age-based renewal requirement is a reduced renewal cycle for drivers that reach certain ages, thus necessitating more frequent appearances at motor vehicle offices than younger drivers and in many cases more frequent vision screenings in the states that require them for everyone at renewal. There are 15 states that have this shorter renewal cycle requirement, in most cases, set at one-half or two-thirds of the state's normal renewal period. Connecticut allows drivers who are age 65 or older to renew their licenses for two instead of six years, but this is at their option.

Another requirement in some states that allow license renewals by mail is that drivers who reach a certain age renew in person rather than by mail. In some cases renewal may also be done electronically via the internet. In five states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, and Louisiana—this option is not allowed for drivers who have reached certain ages. In Connecticut, all license renewals must be done in person.

While a number of states have vision screening requirements that apply to all license renewal applicants, only 10 jurisdictions have vision retesting requirements specific to drivers in certain older age groups. However, there is no consistency among the 10 jurisdictions with respect to the age at which the vision testing requirement applies. Maine and Maryland begin vision testing at age 40; Oregon at age 50 (every eight years); Georgia at age 64; Arizona, South Carolina and Utah at age 65; the District of Columbia at age 70; and Florida and Virginia at age 80. South Carolina's age-specific vision testing requirement will no longer apply beginning October 1, 2008 when all renewing drivers will be required to have a vision screening every five years. Although Florida requires a vision test for renewing drivers who have reached age 80, it still allows these applicants to renew their licenses by mail. (In Connecticut, beginning July 1, 2007, the law requires every license holder to undergo a vision screening on every second license renewal regardless of age (CGS 14-41). Although this requirement was first enacted in 1990, the legislature has postponed its implementation repeatedly for budgetary reasons.)

Only two states—Illinois and New Hampshire—require older drivers to retake a road test when renewing their licenses. Indiana eliminated its renewal road test for age 75 and above in 1999. In the District of Columbia, someone may be required to take a reaction test if he has reached age 70 at renewal and a written and road test if he has reached age 75, but these are not mandatory. Whether they are administered is at the examiner's discretion.

Table 1 shows the states that have the age-specific requirements for renewal applicants described above.

Table 1: Age-Specific License Renewal Requirements

State

Renew By Mail Prohibited

For:

Shorter Renewal Cycle Applies

Age-Specific Vision or Road Test at Renewal

Alaska

Age 69+

   

Arizona

Age 70+

All licenses normally valid until age 65. Age 65+ must get a 5 year license

Age 65-69 renewing by mail must submit verification of a vision test conducted no more than three months prior

California

Age 70+

   

Colorado

Age 61+

10 year normal term

5 years for age 61+

 

District of Columbia

   

First renewal at age 70 or above—vision test is required and a reaction test may be required. Applicant must provide doctor's statement certifying his physical and mental competency to drive

Written and road tests may be required on first renewal at or after age 75 but are not mandatory

Florida

   

Vision test for age 80+

If renewing by mail, test must be performed by physician or optometrist

Georgia

 

5 or 10 year option but

5 year only for age 60+

Vision test for age 64+

Hawaii

 

6 year normal term

2 years for age 72+

 

Idaho

 

4 or 8 year option through age 62;

Age 63+ get only 4 year license

 

Illinois

 

4 year normal term

2 years for age 81-86

1 year for age 87 and older

Age 75 and older must take road test at renewal

Indiana

 

4 year normal term

3 years for age 75+

 

Iowa

 

5 year normal term

2 year for age 65+

 

Kansas

 

6 year normal term

4 years for age 65+

 

Louisiana

Age 70+

   

Maine

 

6 year normal term

4 years for age 65+

Vision test required at first renewal after age 40; every second renewal until age 62; every renewal after age 62

Maryland

   

Vision test at each renewal for age 40+

Missouri

 

6 year normal term

3 year for age 70+

 

Montana

 

8 year if in person/4 year if

renewed by mail

Age 75+ must get 4 year

No one may renew by mail for consecutive terms

New Hampshire

   

Age 75 and older must take road test at renewal

New Mexico

 

4 or 8 year option normal

4 years for drivers turning 75 in last half of 8 year cycle and thereafter

 

Oregon

   

Vision screening every 8 years for age 50+

Rhode Island

 

5 years normal term

2 years for age 70+

 

South Carolina

 

10 years normal term

5 years for 65+

Vision test for age 65 and older Beginning October 1, 2008, vision test for all renewing drivers every five years regardless of age

Utah

   

Vision test for age 65 and older

Virginia

   

Vision test for age 80 and older

Although Maryland requires vision testing for all renewing drivers age 40 or older, its law also specifically prohibits age alone from being grounds for reexamination of a renewal applicant. In Nevada, applicants renewing by mail who are age 70 and older must include a medical report with their application. But the law also prohibits age alone from being the sole justification for license reexamination. Minnesota law also explicitly prohibits reexamination based solely on a renewal applicant's age. Massachusetts law generally prohibits discrimination by reason of age with respect to driver licensing.

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