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 Indiana Bureau 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
Indiana drivers up to age 75 are required to renew their license every 4 years. Drivers who are 75 to 85 years of age can renew their license for a period of 3 years. Drivers who are 85 years or older can renew it for 2 years. At the time their current driver license expires, they are generally required to renew their license in person at a local BMV office. In addition to taking a vision test (see below), which is mandatory for new license applicants and renewals, you may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge test as well. In preparation for this, you can review the Indiana Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. For faster service at the BMV, you can make an appointment for your visit online, or call (317) 233-6000.
THE VISION TEST
All drivers in Indiana 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 BMV. 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 BMV.
The Indiana BMV's vision standard is 20/40 with or without correction, peripheral vision of 120 degrees in one or both eyes, and have adequate color vision to be able to distinguish traffic signals. 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 Certificate of Vision, completed by the vision specialist, back to your local BMV office.
- The vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction. Since the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles will need to retest your vision, make sure to carry out the vision specialist's recommendations before returning to the BMV.
When you return to the BMV for another vision test, your Certificate of Vision will be reviewed. If you pass the subsequent BMV vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary). Depending upon the recommendations given by the vision specialist, the following restriction codes may be placed on your license:
- A: Requires glasses or contact lenses when driving.
- B: Requires outside rear view mirrors when driving.
- C: Driving only in daylight.
THE BMV REEXAMINATION
A BMV 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 BMV reexamination may be recommended by a family member, physical or emergency medical technician, or peace officer. If a driver is found to be incompetent, anyone can report to the family or to the BMV at (317) 233-6000 indicating the driver's license plate number. 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 BMV 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.
- Some of the common restrictions placed on a license include driving a vehicle without air brakes, use of power steering, automatic transmission, exemption of seat belt, etc.