Senior Drivers in Idaho
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 Idaho Transportation Department’s 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
Idaho drivers below the age of 62 can choose to renew their license for either 4 or 8 years. After 62 years of age, it can only be renewed for 4 years. Drivers who are 62 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. All Idaho drivers have to take a vision test at the time of renewal. In addition to taking a vision test (see below), older drivers may in certain situations be asked to take a skills test and medical examination as well if the examiner deems it necessary.
In preparation for this, you can review the Idaho Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. You can call Driver Services at (208) 334-8735 for further queries from Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Mountain Time.
The Vision Test
All senior drivers in Idaho 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 Idaho DMV’s vision standard is 20/40 with or without correction. A restriction will be placed on your license if you wear corrective lenses. If found driving without the lens, citation or even suspension of a license can occur.
If you do not meet the standard you may 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. Bring the report of this examination back to your local DMV office.
When you return to the DMV for another vision test, your 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).
There are instances where medical illnesses may prompt the Idaho Transportation Department to deny a license to individuals. A few of these conditions are epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, history of strokes, severe arthritis, and insulin-managed diabetes. If you have any of these conditions, then you need to undergo a medical examination and prove that you can drive safely despite the condition.
Furthermore, after age 62, the examiner may request a medical examination to be performed before a license can be renewed. ITD also gives an option of voluntarily surrendering the license online, if you are unsure of your driving abilities for medical reasons.
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.
If you are required to undergo a skills test, you must schedule a skills test with a certified skills tester and cannot drive to the test on your own. The skills test will cost you $11.50 and take about 30 minutes. You will be expected to take a pre-drive and a drive test. 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 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.