Senior Drivers in Montana
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 Montana Motor Vehicle Division wants older drivers to maintain their driving independence as long as they continue to drive safely and confidently.
License Renewal For Senior Drivers
Montana drivers who are 75 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 MVD office. The frequency of renewal is every 4 years.
In addition to taking a vision test (see below), you have to present domicile proof and get a new photo taken. You may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge test as well.
In preparation for this, you can review the Montana Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. For faster service at the MVD, you can make an appointment for your visit online, or call (800) 921-1117 or (800) 777-0133.
The Vision Test
Most senior drivers in Montana 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 MVD. 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 MVD.
The Montana MVD’s vision standard is 20/40 in one eye, with or without glasses for an unrestricted license. Visual acuity of at least 20/50 at least in one of the eyes can fetch you a restricted license. If you do not meet the standard you will be issued a Report of Eye Examination 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 Report of Eye Examination, completed by the vision specialist, back to your local MVD office.
- The vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction. Since the Montana Motor Vehicle Division will need to retest your vision, make sure to carry out the vision specialist’s recommendations before returning to the MVD.
When you return to the MVD for another vision test, your Report of Vision Examination will be reviewed. If you pass the subsequent MVD vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary).
If you have any medical condition that might hinder with your driving abilities, you have to obtain a Medical Evaluation Form from your doctor. This form is to be mailed by the doctor to:
Motor Vehicle Division ATTN: Medical Unit PO Box: 201430 Helena, MT 59620-1430
Drivers with hearing problems or seizures have no restrictions for driving.
The MVD Reexamination
An MVD 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 MVD reexamination may be recommended by a family member, physical or emergency medical technician, or peace officer. An incompetent driver may be reported by anyone. They can call the medical unit of MVD on (406) 444-4536 and request for form DES 1004 to file the report.
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 an MVD 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 privileges, 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.