Senior Drivers in Alabama
In addition to being a convenience and an enjoyable activity for many people, driving is also a symbol of one’s independence. As we age, there are numerous factors that can affect our driving skills and hinder our ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
The Driver License Division of Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) wants older drivers to maintain their driving independence as long as they enjoy good vision and physical health to continue to drive safely and confidently.
License Renewal for Senior Drivers
Alabama drivers who are 65 years of age or older at the time their current driver license expires are generally required to renew their license in person at a local MVD office. In addition to taking a vision test (see below), you may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge test as well.
In preparation for this, you can review the Alabama Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. You can check the DPS office schedule as testing times may vary or use the contact form available online for inquiries.
The Vision Test
Alabama is one of the states that do not require a vision screening at the time of renewing the license.
If you are applying for a license for the first time and wear eyeglasses, be sure to bring them with you to the MVD. In addition, if you have not had your vision checked recently, or if you believe your eyesight has worsened, we recommend that you make an appointment with your vision specialist before visiting the DPS.
The standard vision of the Alabama Department of Public Safety is 20/40, and if you do not meet the standard you will be referred to a licensed vision specialist. The vision specialist (a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist) will perform a full vision examination and assess whether your eyesight permits you to drive safely.
If vision is found satisfactory, you can proceed with further tests to obtain the license. If required, the vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction, which will need to be used when driving.
The DPS Reexamination
A DPS re-examination is when a person’s driving skills must be re-evaluated based on one or more factors, including the driver’s physical or mental condition, or driving record. A DPS re-examination may be recommended by a family member, physical or emergency medical technician, or peace officer.
Other times, information in your license renewal application or on your driving record may prompt a re-examination. To prepare for the test, many older drivers choose to enrol in a driver’s education program or driving school for seniors to brush up their skills.
The re-examination involves the immediate evaluation of an individual by a driver license examiner. It consists of an interview, and may also involve a vision test, a written test, and/or a driving test. Following the re-examination, the hearing officer will decide whether any action should be taken regarding your driving privileges, such as restrictions, probation, suspension or revocation.
The Restricted Drivers License
Sometimes, a physical or mental condition can impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The most common of these conditions is a poor vision, but others which may be age-related include cognitive skills like memory, coordination and flexibility.
In some circumstances, older drivers may have a restriction placed on their driver license. The types of restrictions vary, and are based on the results of your vision test, driving test, and the driving examiner’s assessment. A restricted driver license is intended to ensure that you are driving within your abilities. Some of the most common license restrictions are those that:
- Require eyeglasses, corrective contact lenses, or bioptic telescopic lens to be worn at certain times.
- Permit driving from sunrise to sunset only, or prohibit driving during rush hour.
- Restrict the geographical area in which a person is permitted to drive, or prohibit freeway driving.
- Require special mechanical devices, or an additional side mirror on the vehicle.
- Require extra support in order to ensure a safe and correct driving position.