Simply getting around, too, can be a challenge in your senior years. Studies show that seniors (age 65 and older) actually cause fewer auto accidents than the youngest drivers (ages 18 through 25). But if an accident occurs, the older driver is at much greater risk of serious injury or death. According to a Rand study, seniors are nearly seven times more likely than younger drivers to be killed in a two-car accident. While your age alone is not reason enough to limit or take away your driver's license, you can lose your driving rights based on traffic violations, failed written or driving tests, poor vision or various other medical conditions.
No. But when you reach age 70, you can no longer renew your license by mail. (VC § 12814.5(c)) The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can request a doctor's approval. You may not receive a license if your corrected vision is 20/200 or worse in your best eye. (VC § 12805(b)) The DMV also can refuse to issue or renew your driver's license if you are an alcoholic or addicted to certain drugs, have had lapses of consciousness within the past three years or marked confusion or any physical or mental disorder that could affect the safety of your driving. (VC § 12806)
In addition, if a doctor diagnoses Alzheimer's disease or certain other conditions linked to lapses of consciousness, he or she is required to notify the local health office. In turn, the health office must contact the DMV. (HSC § 103900(b))
Yes. Anyone can fill out a DMV Request for Driver Reexamination (Form DS 699) to flag an unsafe driver. Officials try to keep the reporter's name confidential. (VC §§ 1808.5)
Yes. The DMV may, for safety reasons, issue a driver's license for a shorter period of time than the terms of a regular license. (VC § 12508) Or, depending on your ability, you may qualify for a restricted license that only permits you to drive during daylight hours, for example, or on city streets (not highways or freeways), or within 20 miles of your home.
Mature driver education courses are available for drivers who are 55 years old or older. And senior drivers who complete such a course can get a discount on their car insurance for three years. (VC § 1675) For the location of a "Mature Driving Improvement Program" in your area, you could check with your local senior center or call
916-229-3127. For additional information geared for seniors, visit the DMV's website at dmv.ca.gov (opens in new window) (click on the menu at the bottom "How do I ..." and choose Get Information for Seniors). There are also resources that can help you evaluate your own--or an elderly parent's--driving skills. See the DMV publication, "Senior Guide for Safe Driving," or visit the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's website at https://www.aaafoundation.org/roadwise-review-online.
It is an adhesive-backed card, available through the DMV, that can be attached to the back of your driver's license. The fill-in-the-blanks card can be used to identify your blood type, allergies, past or present medical problems, medications and information on how to reach your doctor and other contact person in an emergency. (VC § 12811.1)
If a physician certifies you as disabled, you can qualify for a special parking placard. The placard allows you to park in specially marked, more accessible parking spaces. In addition, you do not have to pay the parking meter. (VC §§ 22511.5, 22511.55))
Cities may also adopt ordinances permitting individuals who are physically disabled or age 50 or older to travel on sidewalks via electric cart. A permit and identification sticker is required. (VC § 21114.5)
In addition, communities provide various means of assistance for those who cannot drive or use public transportation. Contact your county's Area Agency on Aging or a local senior center and ask about transportation services for seniors. Some communities provide free rides solely to seniors who are disabled, while others offer services to all seniors. In some communities, special vans make scheduled trips to grocery stores, shopping malls and senior centers. In others, taxi vouchers help seniors keep their doctor appointments.
If you are no longer able to drive, keep in mind that you will probably need another form of identification once your driver's license expires or is revoked. If you are 62 or older, the DMV will issue you a free senior citizen ID card that will be valid for 10 years and can be renewed. (VC §§ 13000-13008) If you cannot drive because of a physical or mental condition, you can exchange your valid driver's license for a DMV-issued ID card free of charge.
It is illegal to use cell phones and other mobile devices while driving unless it is set up for hands-free use or if you are making an emergency call (to law enforcement, for example). Nor can you use any mobile device to write, send or read text messages, except to select a name or phone number to make a call. (VC §§ 12810.3, 23123-23123.5)
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