Senior Drivers in Oregon
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 Oregon Department of Transportation wants older drivers to maintain their driving independence as long as they continue to drive safely and confidently.
License Renewal For Senior Drivers
Oregon drivers, at the time their current driver license expires, are generally required to renew their license in person at a local DOT office unless they are out of the state. If you are temporarily out of state, you can call the DOT at (503) 945-5400 and get a temporary “Valid without Photo” license issued. Drivers who are 50 years of age or above should take a vision test (see below). Additionally, you may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge test as well, especially if your license was expired for more than a year.
In preparation for this, you can review the Oregon Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. For driver related queries, you can reach out to the DOT. You could also call one of the numbers listed below:
Salem Metro Area (503) 945-5000 Portland Metro Area (503) 299-9999 Bend (541) 388-6322 Medford (541) 776-6025 Roseburg (541) 440-3395 Eugene (541) 686-7855 TTY – Hearing Impaired – (503) 945-5001
The Vision Test
Drivers in Oregon over age 50 upon renewing 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 DOT. 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 DOT.
The Oregon DOT’s vision standard is 20/70 combined for both eyes and a field of vision of 110 degrees. If you do not meet the standard you will be issued a Certificate of Vision 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, oculist, 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 DOT office. It could also be faxed to (503) 945-5329 or mailed to:
DMV Driver Safety Unit 1905 Lana Ave NE Salem, OR 97314
- The vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction. Since the Oregon Department of Transportation will need to retest your vision, make sure to carry out the vision specialist’s recommendations before returning to the DOT
When you return to the DOT for another vision test, your Certificate of Vision will be reviewed. If you pass the subsequent DOT vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary).
Oregon encourages reporting of drivers who may be at-risk drivers. Physicians could either report voluntarily or mandatory if asked by the DOT. Completed forms may be faxed to (503) 945-5329 or the same can be mailed to:
DMV Driver Safety Unit 1905 Lana Ave NE Salem, OR 97314
The license will be suspended with immediate effect. After verifying the condition of the driver, if required, with medical evaluation, the driver may be restrictions placed.
The DOT Reexamination
A DMV 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 DOT 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 DOT 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 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.