Senior Drivers in West Virginia
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 West Virginia 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
West Virginia drivers have a specific age, after which changes in renewal method will be applicable. Depending on the age at which you apply for a license, your first renewal will start at the age when your age will be divisible by 5, and going forward, every fifth year it will be due for renewal. Drivers who are not out of 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 (see below), you may in certain situations be asked to take a written knowledge test as well, especially if your license has been expired for more than 6 months. You will then have to apply as a first-time applicant. In preparation for this, you can review the West Virginia Drivers Handbook and take practice tests before going for your license renewal. For any queries at the DOT, you can call (304) 558-3900.
The Vision Test
Most senior drivers in West Virginia 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. There is a box in the application for a license which needs to be ticked if you have impaired vision.
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 West Virginia DMV’s vision standard is 20/40 at least with or without correction, and if you do not meet the standard you will be issued a Report on Visual 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 Report on Visual 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 West Virginia 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 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).
Anybody applying for a license will need to furnish information on their physical, emotional, and mental health issues. Issuing a license or placing restrictions on it will be decided upon by the West Virginia DMV.
- Drivers with disabilities can contact the DMV to make special arrangements for testing.
- Motorists who are hearing impaired can have a deaf designation placed on their license by calling 1-800-642-9066.
- Drivers with diabetes can have a diabetes designation placed on their license.
West Virginia has online and classroom Driver Safety Classes offered to help elderly drivers sharpen their driving skills. An online quiz to self-assess driving skills is also available. AARP also offers information on Driver’s Ed for Grownups.
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. Unsafe drivers can be reported by calling the Driver Improvement Section at (304) 558-0238. Details of name, age address, and license number of the driver along with reasons as to why the person is unsafe could be sent to:
Division of Motor Vehicles Driver Improvement Services Bldg. 3 Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25317
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 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.
The West Virginia Drivers Handbook lists a set of driver’s handbook that can be imposed on your license. Driving without paying attention to the restrictions can cause suspension or revocation of the license.