While making a left turn onto a side street, Frances W. hit a car loaded with two adults and two children. Afraid she was going to be sued, William, Frances’ son, insistes that his mother give up driving. When nothing came of accident, Frances rebelled. Anyone could have had the same accident. Her age had nothing to do with it. Worried William might try to interfere when her license expired on her 79th birthday in September, Frances looked up the renewal rules online at www.dmv.com/tx/texas/seniors-drivers. Here’s what she learned.
State Requirements for License Renewal for Seniors Seventy-Nine to Eighty Four
Prior to the age of 79, Texas drivers must renew their licenses every twelve years. They can renew in person, by mail and online. The 79-year-old driver is limited to appearing in person at the local motor vehicle center to obtain renewal. If renewed, the license issued will be valid for six years.
Frances insisted on driving herself to the motor vehicle center to get her license renewed. There she was required to take a vision test. The test revealed she had corrected vision of 20/30 and a field vision of 140 degrees. Had her vision been less than 20/40 and her field vision less than 140 degrees, she would have been referred to a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist for examination before determination was made whether a license could be issued.
Frances had read on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) site that “Drivers are expected to report to the DOT of their medical condition at the time of renewing a license.” Based on that, Frances took a copy of her last annual check-up to the DMV. William had thought Frances’ hearing loss might have contributed to her accident, so she was prepared to take a hearing test. However, she learned no hearing test would be required.
Frances studied the Texas Drivers Handbook to brush up on driving rules because she had read she might have to answer questions about driving safety. However, Frances was relieved that, although the DPS examiner could have asked her to do so, he did not require her to take either a written or a road test.
Frances returned from her visit to the DMV with a brand new license good until her eighty-fifth birthday. At that time, her license, if issued, would be subject to renewal every two years.
Certain Restrictions to Licenses for Seniors
Some seniors’ licenses may be issued with restrictions designed for their own safety and the safety of others. Typical restrictions include:
Requirement to wear eyeglasses, corrective contact lenses, or bioptic telescopic lens; Limitation of driving times from sunrise to sunset only; Prohibition from driving during rush hour; Restriction of driving to certain geographical areas; Prohibition from driving on freeways; Required usage of special mechanical devices; Installation of additional side mirrors on the vehicle; and/or Use of extra support in order to ensure a safe driving position. Seniors (and their families) need to familiarize themselves with the requirements for license renewal in keeping with driving safely as they age.
Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives and practices in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain