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 Hawaii Driver Licensing Section is controlled by the Department of Finance, Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division and wants older drivers to maintain their driving independence as long as they continue to drive safely and confidently.
LICENSE RENEWAL FOR SENIOR DRIVERS
Hawaii drivers who are 72 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 licensing office in their county. The renewal needs to be done every 2 years. If you are unable to visit the license office, you can send a letter requesting to renew your license to the specific county license office. Include details like full name, date of birth, address, Social Security Number, license expiry date and copy of current license or its number and the office will send you back a packet containing a Driver License Application, Medical and Vision testing forms, a Signature form and a Thumbprint impression form. Return the completed forms to the office. You will be issued a new license if your record is clear. Your license will have "valid without a Photo" printed across it, if your photograph is not in the database.
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 Hawaii Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal.
THE VISION TEST
Most senior drivers in Hawaii 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 licensing office. 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 office.
The Hawaii Licensing Division's vision standard is 20/40 with or without correction; field of vision of 70 in each eye, and the ability to differentiate traffic colors and signals. If you do not meet the standard you may be referred to a licensed vision specialist. If you pass the subsequent Division's vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary).
THE DIVISION'S REEXAMINATION
A 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 Division's 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 the Division's 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. 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 history must have been seizure-free for at least a period of 6 months before resuming driving.