A senior drivers license can help an older adult retain his or her autonomy and mobility while aging, and is often closely associated with an individual’s perception of independence. Federal law prohibits state drivers license regulations from discriminating against any applicant solely on the basis of age, and nearly 50 million adults age 65 and older held valid drivers licenses in 2015. However, states’ DMV drivers license policies are also required to protect all drivers by ensuring that licenses are issued only to individuals capable of driving safely. As a result, most states’ regulations governing the issuance of a new drivers license or the renewal of a senior’s license to drive incorporate provisions intended to identify applicants who may be suffering from, or receiving treatment for, medical conditions that inhibit their abilities to safely operate vehicles. For example, older drivers are not permitted to renew a drivers license online in many states. Instead, they must appear at a DMV in person to do so, and may be required to take a practical driving exam or complete a vision assessment each time. DMV provisions for senior drivers are inconsistent. Each state determines which guidelines to use and what age an applicant must reach before the extra layer of rules or screenings begins to apply. Successfully learning how to apply for a driver license requires that older adults familiarize themselves with the specific rules and regulations applicable to seniors in the state(s) in which they live and wish to drive, as well as the steps they can take to prepare themselves to meet those standards. Review the sections below to read more about new driver licenses for senior citizens.
How to Get a Drivers License as a Senior
Typically, the first step in a senior drivers license application is to apply for a learners permit. When getting drivers license credentials, some states require that individuals of any age first hold a learners permit for a minimum, set period of time, such as 90 days. Learners permits cannot be applied for online. Driver license applicants must take required documentation and forms of identification with them and go in person to a DMV office to apply. Fees will be charged in accordance with an applicant’s specific situation. Applicants are generally required to take and pass DMV tests on common driving laws, traffic signs and safety considerations in order to receive their learners permits.
Seniors cannot apply for drivers license authorization until after they have held their learners’ permits for the minimum amount of time required by the regulations in their state(s) of residence, if applicable. Senior diving license applicants may also need to fulfill additional criteria before they will be able to sit for their driver tests. For example, some states require that learner permit holders complete and document a minimum number of supervised practice driving hours before they can get a drivers license. Other states mandate that applicants complete approved classes or coursework in driver safety and/or driver education before they can be allowed to sit for their drivers exams. Seniors should check with the DMV in their states of residence for a full list of drivers license requirements and to determine whether or not appointments are needed to take their drivers tests.
The next steps in the process of how to get a drivers license can be taken once an older adult has completed all of the prerequisites that apply in his or her state. How to apply for drivers license credentials may vary from state to state, and can depend on an applicant’s exact age and the state law. The process will include, at minimum, both written and practical driving exams. In some states, applicants above a certain age must take a vision exam or produce a written statement by a doctor or optometrist verifying that their vision is adequate to meet or surpass the DMV license standards. Some states may also require that drivers license applicants of a certain age submit to Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluations to demonstrate their readiness for a license to drive. Seniors may also be required to answer questions related to any medical conditions they may have. Examiners may refer senior drivers license applicants for additional examination or review if their answers suggest that they suffer from a medical condition or take medication that might impair their abilities to drive safely.
What are the drivers license services and costs for seniors?
The drivers license cost for seniors will vary from state to state. The fees associated with applying for a learners permit and a drivers license are often variable by age, and tend to be lower for older adults than for younger adults or teens. Some types of licenses, such as Enhanced IDs, may be obtained through the same process as regular Real identification cards, but carry an extra cost. The costs of senior drivers licenses may also include the costs of any documentation an applicant must acquire or replace in order to complete the application process, such as certified copies of birth certificates or Social Security cards. Certain metropolitan areas may also charge additional fees used to support public transportation networks or roadway maintenance efforts as part of their standard cost of drivers license applications. Fees, scheduling options and other drivers license information specific to a senior’s state and/or municipality can be obtained from the DMV.