Older Drivers

Regulations Affecting Older Drivers

Many states have laws designed to ensure that older drivers stay safe and do not endanger others on the road. Some states require drivers over a certain age to

  • renew their licenses more often than younger drivers
  • renew their licenses in person
  • pass vision tests
  • pass driving-knowledge tests
  • pass road tests.

Vision Tests

Many states require people who renew their driver’s licenses to have their vision tested. Such tests have been shown to reduce deaths among older drivers. People who do not pass the test must get an eye exam before a license is renewed. If the driver’s vision does not meet the state’s minimum requirement, the license may be restricted or suspended.

Driving Restrictions

States can limit the right to drive of an individual of any age based on his or her abilities. Restrictions can be imposed on someone with a disability. They may also be placed on someone with a history of crashes or serious violations, usually after being contacted by the police, a doctor, or a family member.

A state department of motor vehicles reviews medical evidence and conducts written and on-the-road tests to see which restrictions make sense for a particular person, such as no driving at night or no driving on interstate highways. The state can issue a license with restrictions — or it can suspend or revoke the license.

In a few states, physicians are required to report patients with medical conditions that can seriously impair driving. The state of California specifically requires doctors to report patients with a diagnosis of dementia. The state department of motor vehicles, not a doctor, determines if someone is unable to drive.

Watch “Driving with Alzheimer’s Disease" to see how memory problems caused by Alzheimer's disease can make driving unsafe.