Learn about driving regulations and special initiatives aimed at keeping both older drivers and California’s streets safe.
More than 5.5 million California drivers are over the age of 55, with more than 2.5 million of them being 70 or older. While the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) enforces a plethora of laws and regulations that apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state imposes certain unique requirements and limits on senior drivers.
The California state standards are discussed in further detail below, but many of them concentrate on detecting and dealing with elderly drivers who may have become risky. California, in particular:
Drivers 70 and older must renew their licenses in person and take both a vision test and a written test when doing so; accepts requests from family members and others for the DMV to conduct unsafe driver investigations; and requires doctors who diagnose patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions that may make them unsafe drivers to report the diagnosis.
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California License Renewal Procedures for Senior Citizens
Drivers aged 70 and over who want to renew their licenses must follow special regulations.
Drivers above the age of 70 must renew in person every five years. (Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the California Department of Motor Vehicles automatically extended drivers’ licenses from March 1 to December 31, 2020.
A vision exam is required at the time of in-person renewal. Drivers may have a free test conducted by DMV employees, or they can have an exam performed by an independent ophthalmologist or optometrist, who must file a Report of Vision Examination and conduct the exam within six months of the renewal request.
Written examination: Required for in-person renewal.
Road test: Required only if a law enforcement officer, a physician, or a family member reports signs of driving impairment.
License Restrictions That Might Exist
After conducting a driving test and discussing potential limits with the driver, the DMV may impose restrictions or conditions on his or her driver’s license.
The most prevalent limitation for senior drivers is the need for corrective lenses or glasses.
Other frequent regulations that the DMV may place on elderly drivers in California include:
no highway driving
a second right side mirror on a car
There are no nighttime driving limits—for example, no driving during rush hour traffic supports to maintain a correct driving position geographic area restrictions, and wearing bioptic telescopic lenses while driving.
How to Request a California Unsafe Driver Investigation
The California Department of Motor Vehicles will take information from the driver, courts, police, other DMVs, family members, and nearly any other source. While anonymous complaints of risky driving will not be allowed, anybody may request that his or her identity be kept private, and the DMV promises to respect that request “to the best degree practicable.”
There are two methods to ask the DMV to evaluate your driving qualifications:
Write a letter to the local Driver Safety Office identifying the driver who is creating the concern and providing detailed grounds for making the complaint.
Fill out a Request for Driver Reexamination form and mail or bring it to one of the DMV sites specified on the form.
Doctors are required to report.
California is one of only a few states that requires doctors to report a patient’s diagnosis of a disorder characterized by lapses in consciousness, Alzheimer’s disease, or any other condition likely to impair driving to the local health department, which must forward it to the DMV, which has the discretion to suspend the patient’s license or require a driving test.
Driver Improvement Programs in California
Drivers may enhance their abilities by enrolling in an education and training program designed exclusively for elderly drivers. Look for Mature Driver Improvement Programs in your community.
How to Restore a Driver’s License
For information about regaining a license that has been suspended or revoked in California, contact one of the state’s DMV Driver Safety Offices.
Senior Driver Ombudsman Program in California
The California DMV offers a Senior Ombudsman Program that aims to keep older persons driving for as long as they can safely do so.
The ombudsmen, situated in many locations around the state, may assist guarantee that senior drivers are treated fairly and politely, and accordance with laws and regulations. They may help with specific instances as well as provide outreach workshops to organizations advocating senior driver safety.
Senior Ombudsmen from the DMV are accessible at the following locations:
916-657-6464, Sacramento, Northern California
510-563-8998 Orange, San Bernardino, and San Diego—949-553-3573 Los Angeles, Oxnard—310-412-6103
How to Obtain Disabled Driver Parking Placards or License Plates
Drivers with restricted mobility may be awarded disabled parking placards and license plates if the condition is certified by a qualified physician, surgeon, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or certified nurse-midwife.
Placards and license plates are also available to people who have:
serious cardiovascular or circulatory illness
severe lung disease a diagnosed illness or ailment that greatly restricts the use of lower limbs\s particular visual difficulties, including low-vision or partial-sightedness, or\s the loss, or loss of the use, of one or both lower extremities or both hands.
To receive a disability placard or plate, follow these steps:
Fill out and sign an Application for Disabled Person Placards or License Plates.
Include a $6 price for a temporary parking permit; permanent plates and placards are free.
Send the original application to the address specified on the form.