Senior Drivers in Delaware
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 a numerous factors that can affect our driving skills, and hinder our ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The Delaware Division 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
Delaware 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 DMV office. In addition to taking a vision test (see below), you will be asked to take a Highway Sign and Signal Test. In preparation for this, you can review the Delaware Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal.
The Vision Test
Drivers in Delaware who renew their license will be asked to compulsorily 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.
The Delaware DMV’s vision standard is 20/40 with or without correction. If you require correction, then the license will indicate that you cannot legally drive without glasses or contact lenses. You may be referred to a licensed vision specialist. Please note the following if you are referred to a vision specialist:
- After a vision test during a DMV visit to renew your license, you will be issued an unrestricted license if your vision is 20/40, restricted daylight driving only license if it is 20/50, and one with a vision of 20/50 will be denied a license.
- 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 Report of Visual Status by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist completed by the vision specialist, back to your local DMV office, since the Delaware Division 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 vision test will be repeated. If you pass the subsequent DMV vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary). In the event that you fail the subsequent DMV vision test, you will need to compensate for your vision condition while driving. Otherwise, you will be denied a license.
A Medical Report of Physician’s Findings may also be required if there are any medical conditions that may hamper the driving abilities. This completed form has to be mailed directly by the physician to:
Medical Records Section Driver Improvement Unit PO Box 698 Dover, DE 19903-0698
Alternately, it may be faxed to (302) 739-5667 ATTN: Medical Records Section.
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 Driver Safety hearing 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.
If your vehicle requires modifications like special foot pedals or mirrors, the test will be conducted with those and your license updated accordingly. 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 with seizures must submit a form from a physician that they have been seizure-free for at least 3 months and are fit to drive.
- Unsafe drivers can either report themselves to the DMV and upon retesting have their license reinstated for no extra charge. If you are reported unsafe by somebody else, then you may need to submit a Medical Report of Physician’s Findings. If found necessary, you may need to undergo special driver training or driver rehabilitation evaluation.