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 South Dakota Division 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

South Dakota drivers have no restrictions based on age alone. Drivers who are residing in the state at the time their current driver license expires are generally required to renew their license in person at a local DMV office. In addition to taking a vision test at each renewal (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 South Dakota Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. For driver-related queries, you can call the DMV at (800) 952-3696.

The Vision Test

Most senior drivers in South Dakota 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 DMV. 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 DMV.

The South Dakota DMV’s vision standard is at least 20/40 in both eyes with or without correction, and if you do not meet the standard you will be issued a State approved Vision Statement 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 Vision Examination, completed by the vision specialist, back to your local DMV office.
  • The vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction. Since the South Dakota Division of Motor Vehicles will need to retest your vision, make sure to carry out the vision specialist’s recommendations before returning to the DMV

When you return to the DMV for another vision test, your vision report of will be reviewed. If you pass the subsequent DMV vision test, your driver license renewal will be granted (with a corrective lens restriction, if necessary).

Medical Examination

DMV may ask for a Medical Statement to be filled in by a physician indicating that you are a safe driver. If you require special accommodations to test for driving, you can contact the DMV on (800) 952-3696 or (605) 773-6883.

If you are hearing impaired, there are no restrictions placed on your license.
If you have had seizures in the past, you can get a temporary license provided your doctor certifies your seizures are under control. This license will be renewed every 6 months and once you have been seizure-free for 12 months, your license restored.

The DMV 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 DMV 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 can be reported to the DMV via a Driver Evaluation Request form mailed to:

Driver Licensing
118 West Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501

The reexamination involves the immediate evaluation of an individual by a DMV 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.
Last updated on Thursday, March 7 2019.

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