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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 Vermont Department 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
Vermont drivers do not have any age limit, after which they are expected to renew their license more frequently. Drivers can renew their license either by sending the completed form to the DMV or in person at a local DMV office. 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 Vermont Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. If you wish to continue with the photo in your old license, the license will reach you in 15 days. If you get a new photo taken, you will be issued a new license immediately. For faster service at the DMV, you can make an appointment for your visit online, or call (800) 921-1117 or (800) 777-0133.
THE VISION TEST
Most senior drivers in Vermont 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.
For an unrestricted license, the Vermont DMV's vision standard is 20/40 at least in one or both eyes, with or without correction. The horizontal visual field must be at least 60 degrees. If you do not meet the standard you will be referred to a licensed vision specialist.
When you return to the DMV for another vision test, your vision report 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).
The DMV can request you to provide a Universal Medical Evaluation Form either at the time you apply for a license or to update your medical condition before a renewal. A Medical Examiner's Certificate can be attached to your license if any disabilities are discovered.
For better communication, drivers who are hard of hearing will have a sticker on their license stating the same.
If you have told the DMV of a medical condition that could interfere with your driving skills, the DMV can request a Universal Medical Evaluation Form and then decide if any restriction needs to be placed on your license.
Contact the DMV for special testing accommodations to be arranged.
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. Anybody can report an unsafe driver by calling (808) 828-2000.
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 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.