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 Ohio 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
Most Ohio drivers, at the time their current driver license expires, are generally required to renew their license in person at a local BMV office. Renewing by mail is an option only if you are military personnel or their dependents or are out of state for a long period of time. Contact BMV at (614) 752-7600 to ask for a renewal packet to be sent to you. You can complete the forms and get your license renewed. There is no age limit, after which the renewal frequency increases in Ohio. In addition to taking a vision test (see below), you may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge test as well. In preparation for this, you can review the Ohio Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal.
THE VISION TEST
Most senior drivers in Ohio 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. The vision test consists of testing with respect to acuity and also horizontal fields. 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 Ohio BMV's vision standard is acuity of 20/40 in each eye with or without correction and have a horizontal visual field of 70 in each eye. 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.
When you return to the BMV for another vision test, your vision report 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).
Drivers who report of physical or medical disabilities will be required to complete a medical packet which needs to be completed and returned within 30 days to the BMV. Based on these results, your will be issued a restricted license, if deemed necessary The BMV may also require you to have period medical testing based on your physical health.
Ohio has Retirement Associations and church groups which can provide public transportation to drivers who are no longer able to drive on their own.
THE BMV REEXAMINATION
A BMV 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 BMV 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 BMV 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 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.