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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 Texas 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
Texas drivers who are 79 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 DOT office. Drivers over 85 years of age can only renew it for a 2-year period. Texas also allows you to renew the license online. 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 Texas Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. For license-related queries, you can send email to TexasOnline Help (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (877) 452-9060.
THE VISION TEST
Most senior drivers in Texas 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 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 Texas DOT's vision standard is at least 20/40 combined with a horizontal field vision of 140 degrees. If you do not meet the standard you will be issued a DL63 form. 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. Texas DPS requires that the driver sign on the form in the presence of the visual specialist. Bring the Report of Vision Examination, completed by the vision specialist, back to your local DOT office.
- The vision specialist may prescribe eyeglasses or another type of vision correction. Since the Texas 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 Report of Vision Examination 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).
Drivers are expected to report to the DOT of their physical condition at the time of renewing a license. If it is felt unsafe for you to be driving, you may be issued a restricted license. Drivers with a seizure history must have been seizure free for at least 6 months and have a doctor verify that fact.
There are no restrictions for the hearing impaired driver in Texas.
THE DOT REEXAMINATION
A DOT 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. Incompetent drivers can be reported, even anonymously if you wish to, by mail to:
Texas Department of Safety PO Box 4087 Austin, TX 78773-0320
ATTN: Driver Improvement and Compliance Bureau
The reexamination involves the immediate evaluation of an individual by a DOT Driver Safety 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.
The Texas Drivers Handbook has a list of restriction codes listed which may be placed on a license. These range from daylight driving only to restricting geographical areas in which you can drive. Addition and removal of restrictions is at the discretion of the Texas DOT.