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 Washington DC Department of Motor Vehicles wants older drivers to maintain their driving independence as long as they continue to drive safely and confidently.

License Renewal For Senior Drivers

Washington DC drivers who are 70 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 DMV office. In addition to taking a vision test (see below), you may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge and road test as well.

In preparation for this, you can review the Washington DC Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. Drivers over 70 years of age will also be required to get the Medical Fitness section and Mature Driver Certification sections of the form completed by a medical practitioner.

You will be issued a temporary license for 45 days, within which you can complete the required medical paperwork. DMV also offers the facility to renew online or if you are out of state, you can apply for absentee driver license renewal. For license information related to senior drivers, call DMV at (202) 727-5000.

The Vision Test

Most senior drivers in Washington DC who renew their license in person will be asked to undergo a basic vision test to ensure they are able to safely operate a motor vehicle. If you wear eyeglasses, be sure to bring them with you to the DMV. In addition, if you haven’t 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 DMV.

The Washington DC DMV’s vision standards are 20/40 in the best eye or at least 20/70 in the best eye with a horizontal visual field of 140 degrees. If you do not meet the standard you will be referred to a licensed vision specialist. Please note the following if you are referred to a 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. Bring the Eye Report completed by the vision specialist, back to your local DMV office.
  • The vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction. Since the Washington DC Department of Motor Vehicles will need to retest your vision, make sure to carry out the vision specialist’s recommendations before returning to the DMV.

When you return to the DMV for another vision test, your Eye Report will be reviewed. If you pass the subsequent DMV vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary).

Medical Examination

Washington DC provides a host of medical forms and applications that drivers can use to check if they conform to the DMV’s requirements expected of drivers. Drivers with seizures or blackout episodes should have been seizure -free for at least 12 months before they can resume driving. Drivers who are hearing impaired will have an additional mirror on the left side, and the same will be mentioned on the license.

If you need an interpreter during your license testing, you could notify the DMV by writing a mail to Drivers who are suspected to be incompetent can be reported to the DMV by providing specific information. The DMV may then chose to re-test the driver and apply restrictions, revoke, or suspend the license, as deemed necessary.

The DMV Reexamination

A DMV reexamination is when a person’s driving skills must be reevaluated based on one or more factors, including the driver’s physical or mental condition, or driving record. A DMV reexamination 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 reexamination. The reexamination involves the immediate evaluation of an individual by a DMV authorized officer. It consists of an interview, and may also involve a vision test, a written test, and/or a driving test.

To prepare for the test, many older drivers choose to enroll in a driver’s education program or driving school for seniors to brush up their skills. Following the reexamination, 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 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.
  • Drivers who may require tinted glasses on their vehicle can submit a waiver form through their physician.
Last updated on Thursday, March 7 2019.