How to Renew a Drivers License

How often a senior needs to renew drivers license credentials varies by his or her state of residence and specific age. Drivers license renewal intervals are not governed by any uniform national standards. Renewing drivers license credentials may need to be done after as few as two years in some states, but not for eight years at a time in others. How to renew drivers license credentials frequently becomes an issue of increasing concern to drivers as they age and become subject to different, more restrictive regulations governing their ability to renew and retain their driving privileges. Understanding DMV license renewal rules and limitations as they apply to older drivers can help seniors be prepared for these changes and ease the transition into the new standards under which they need to work. Review more information about driver license renewal for seniors in the sections outlined below.

How to Renew Senior Drivers Licenses and Learners Permits

Learners permits that are allowed to expire must typically be reapplied for, rather than renewed. Applicants will be required to resubmit all of their original documentation and pay a new round of fees.

Most states allow drivers to renew drivers license online using the state’s DMV website, to renew in person at a DMV office or to submit a renewal request by mail. However, drivers license renewal online is an option typically only open to drivers who do not need to make any significant changes to their credentials and who processed one or both of their last two license renewals in person. Online driver license renewal also requires drivers to submit a debit or credit card to process the applicable fees. Drivers with expired drivers license credentials are never eligible to renew online.

When online drivers license renewal is not an option, drivers may apply by mail. Applicants must include a check or money order in the amount of all associated fees. The option to renew a driver license by mail is not available to drivers whose licenses have expired. Drivers also may not renew a drivers license by mail if they need to make changes to key information on their licenses, they have already renewed by mail the maximum number of times allowed by their states of residence or if they have reached their state’s “older driver” age and are have become legally required to renew in person. Any driver may apply to renew his or her drivers license in person at a DMV office. The driving license renewal fee will be assessed regardless of the renewal method selected. Fees vary widely based on the state, specific driver age and other factors.

Find Out About “Older Adult” License Renewals

Finding out how and where to renew drivers license credentials can feel daunting for adults who have recently reached their states’ “older adult” age – the age at which additional testing requirements and limitations begin to apply to the licensing and renewals of drivers licenses within the state. “Can you renew your license online?” is one of the first questions most drivers newly initiated into the “older adult” category ask. In most states, the answer is no. To accommodate mandatory vision and functional testing requirements, senior drivers in states with set “older adult” ages are required to renew driving licenses in person each time. They may also find they need to renew their drivers licenses more often due to “accelerated license renewal terms.”

In some states, designated third parties, such as law enforcement officials or doctors, can request that a driver’s fitness to hold a license be reassessed at any time, delaying the driver license renewal process until further investigated. These laws apply to seniors and non-seniors, alike, and typically cannot be made anonymously. All such requests must be supported by reasonable causes. Driver refusal to comply with retesting when the DMV deems it appropriate may be grounds for the suspension of a driver license.

Not all states designate “older adult” ages at which additional testing requirements and limits begin to apply to drivers. In 19 states, no set age has been designated, and senior drivers may renew drivers licenses at the same intervals and under the same rules as all other drivers. Two states begin requiring all drivers to take vision tests with each drivers license renewal at age 40. Sixteen states do not begin applying additional regulations to individuals renewing drivers license credentials until drivers reach age 70 or older. The remaining states fall at varying points in between, implementing extra testing or other limits at a range of ages between 50 and 70 years of age.

In general, “older adult” restrictions do not change the length of renewal intervals in states that maintain shorter renewal periods. States with longer standard renewal intervals generally shorten their DMV license renewal terms by one-third to one-half for seniors. Hawaii and Illinois have the most restrictive regulations for seniors seeking to renew drivers licenses.

The most common restrictions added to senior drivers are an inability to renew drivers licenses online and a requirement to retake the driver vision exam each renewal. Provisions enabling states to suspend the driving privileges of any drivers who do not abide by required testing regulations are also common.