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 Missouri Department of Revenue's Motor Vehicle and Driver License Division wants older drivers to maintain their driving independence as long as they continue to drive safely and confidently.
LICENSE RENEWAL FOR SENIOR DRIVERS
Missouri drivers who are 70 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 MVDL office. Missouri drivers can renew their license for a period of 6 years between age 21 and 69, but only for 3 years after age 70. In addition to taking a vision test (see below) and road sign tests, you will be asked to take a written knowledge test as well, especially if your license has been expired for more than 6 months. In preparation for this, you can review the Missouri Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. For queries related to license at the MVDL, you can call (573) 751-4600.
THE VISION TEST
Most senior drivers in Missouri 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 MVDL. 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 MVDL.
Missouri MVDL's vision standard is 20/40 for visual acuity. A peripheral vision of 55 degrees in both eye or 85 degrees in one eye is mandatory. If you do not meet the standard you will be issued a Vision Examination Record and 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 Vision Examination Record, completed by the vision specialist, back to your local MVDL office.
- The vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction. Since the Missouri Department of Revenue will need to retest your vision, make sure to carry out the vision specialist's recommendations before returning to the MVDL.
- If, after correction, the visual acuity is not at least 20/160 or combined peripheral vision is not at least 70 degrees, then you will be denied a license.
When you return to the MVDL for another vision test, your Vision Examination Report will be reviewed. Based on the recommendations made, there might be restrictions placed on your license. If you pass the subsequent MVDL vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary).
When driving, if you observe difficulties with following traffic signals, unsure of when to give way to other vehicles, getting confused which road to take and at what speed to drive in certain areas, please visit your doctor and get a physician statement. If it is deemed that you cannot safely drive on the roads, the physician can report an unsafe driver or ask for certain restrictions to be placed on your license. A Driver Condition Report can be used by anyone wanting to report unsafe drivers to the MVDL.
Drivers with a history of seizure will need to have been seizure-free for at least 6 months before resuming driving. If a license is denied due to seizure history, unlike in other states, Missouri MVDL does not encourage an appeal.
Drivers who are hard of hearing do not have any special restrictions placed on them. Their license can have a J88 notation after proving that they are hard of hearing with a statement from the Missouri Commission for the Deaf, County Department of Health, Social Security Administration, or an independent living center.
THE MVDL REEXAMINATION
A MVDL 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. An MVDL 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 MVDL 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.