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 Wisconsin 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
Wisconsin drivers have no specific age limit, after which special considerations set in for their license. Drivers are generally required to renew their license in person at a local DMV office. You must also provide your Social Security Number, your current license, and complete the Wisconsin Driver License form. 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 Wisconsin Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. For license-related queries, you can contact the DMV on (608) 266-2353.
THE VISION TEST
Most senior drivers in Wisconsin 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.
DMV's vision standard is 20/100 or better in at least one eye and a 20 degree horizontal field of vision. If you do not meet the standard you will be issued a Certificate of Vision Examination 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 Certificate 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 Wisconsin DMV 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 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).
If found necessary, the DMV may ask you to submit a Medical Examination Report to determine if you have any medical condition that might interfere with driving.
Drivers with a seizure history must have been seizure-free for at least 3 months before they can resume driving. A medical report from a doctor might also be required. The DMV may also choose to ask the driver to undergo periodic checkups.
There are no restrictions for hearing impaired drivers. If you are disabled and require special testing accommodation, please contact the DMV at (800) 924-3570.
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. Medically incompetent drivers can be reported to the DMV by submitting a Driver Condition or Behavior Report Form.
The reexamination involves the immediate evaluation of an individual by a DMV 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.