Senior Drivers in New Mexico
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 New Mexico 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
New Mexico drivers can either choose to renew their license for 4 or 8 years depending on the fee paid. However, it can only be renewed for 1 year after the driver reaches 75 years of age. Driver 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. There is no renewal fee for senior drivers.
In addition to taking a vision test (see below), you may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge test and road test as well. In preparation for this, you can review the New Mexico Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. You can call (888) 683-4636 to make an appointment.
The Vision Test
Senior drivers in New Mexico who renew their license will be asked to undergo a basic vision test every year 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 New Mexico MVD’s vision standard is at least 20/40 in one eye with or without correction. You should be able to see out of the corner of your eye, to be able to spot vehicles. You should be able to judge distances from other vehicles. Night vision might be another problem, which might be a limitation for older drivers. If you do not meet the standard, you will be referred to a licensed vision specialist.
When you return to the MVD for another vision test, your vision report 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).
Drivers with medical conditions that might interfere with driving such as diabetes, heart ailments, stroke, etc., must keep the MVD updated of their medical status through reports signed by their doctors. Drivers with a seizure history should have been seizure-free for at least 6 months before resuming driving. Call (888) 683-4636 for information on how medical conditions might impede 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.
Other times, information in your license renewal application or on your driving record may prompt a reexamination. Incompetent drivers may be reported to the MVD with full information by fax at (505) 461-1710 or by mail at:
Motor Vehicle Division P.O. Box 1028 Santa Fe, NM 87504-1028
The reexamination involves the immediate evaluation of an individual by an MVD approved 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 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.