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 Florida Department of Highway Safety and 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
Florida drivers who are 80 years of age or older at the time their current driver license expires can renew their license in person at a local DHS&MV office or by phone or mail after clearing 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 Florida Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. After clearing the vision test, you can renew your license in person, online or via phone. For faster service, Florida has developed OASIS (Online Appointment Service and Information System) where you can schedule an Online Appointment Service and Information System (OASIS) or get queries answered.
THE VISION TEST
Florida drivers of age 79 or above who renew their license 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 DHS&MV. 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 DHS&MV.
The Florida DHS&MV's vision standard is 20/50. If worse in one or either eye, you will be referred to a licensed vision specialist to see if it can be improved. If one eye is blind, the other must have 20/40. The accepted minimum field of vision is 130 degrees. Please note the following if you are referred to a vision specialist:
- If you failed to meet the minimum vision required, a Mature Vision Examination Form needs to be completed by 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 Report of Eye Examination, completed by the vision specialist, back to your local DHS&MV office. Alternately, DHS&MV allows the vision specialist to submit vision results online, after which you can get the license renewed online, by phone or in person.
- The vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction. Since the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will need to retest your vision, make sure to carry out the vision specialist's recommendations before returning to the DHS&MV. For any vision-related queries, contact customer service at (850) 617-2000 or email to: vision@DHS&MV.gov.
When you return to the DHS&MV for another vision test, your vision test report will be reviewed. If you pass the subsequent DHS&MV vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary).
THE DHS&MV REEXAMINATION
A DHS&MV reexamination may be given 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 DHS&MV reexamination may be recommended by a family member, physical or emergency medical technician, or peace officer via this medical reporting form. 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 DHS&MV 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 privilege, such as restrictions, probation, suspension or revocation.
THE RESTRICTED DRIVER 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 a seizure during the last 24 months need to submit a medical form and should have been seizure-free for at least 6 months before resuming driving.
- Drivers with medical conditions that may need attention can have it indicated on their licenses.