License Renewals: What Are the New Rules for Senior Drivers?

Smiling older man in the driver's seat of a red convertible.For better or for worse, our current culture depends heavily on cars to get where we need to be. In many places across the United States, cars serve as the only convenient link to the outside world.

Today, seniors aged 70 and older drive fewer miles than younger drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Older drivers are also among the safest of all drivers, a 2015 AAA report showed. Nonetheless, state senior driving laws vary widely across the country.

Driver’s License Renewals and Age Restrictions

No state will revoke a driver’s license based only on the driver’s age. However, some states have placed restrictions on license renewals for elder drivers. Other states do not base license renewals on age, and still others have fewer requirements for older drivers.

The states that put age restrictions on license renewals do so in a number of ways. Many have shorter renewal periods for people over a certain age. These periods can vary widely.

For example, Arizona requires everyone aged 65 and older to renew their license every five years as opposed to every 12 years for people under age 65.

In Pennsylvania, drivers 65 and older have the choice to renew their license every two years instead of the standard four years.

In Illinois, drivers between the ages of 81 and 86 can renew for two years rather than four. For a driver aged 87 or older, the renewal period shortens to one year.

Some states, like Colorado and Washington state, require senior drivers to pass a vision test when renewing a license. Another way states monitor older drivers is by not mandating drivers over a certain age to renew their licenses in person. In addition, one state – Illinois – requires a driving test if the driver is 75 years old or older.

While not all states put restrictions on license renewals. However, all state Departments of Motor Vehicles, Highway Safety, or Transportation have an office where a family member or health care professional can make a referral about an unsafe driver. The state office will investigate the claim, and the driver may have to take a road test.

Doctors are generally not required to report patients they feel are unsafe. In California, however, doctors must report demented patients and in California and a few other states doctors must report patients with epilepsy.

The IIHS provides a state-by-state guide on license renewal procedures. However, be sure to contact your local motor vehicle services agency for the latest information.

Other Resources for Aging Drivers and Their Loved Ones

If you have a loved one who is no longer able to drive safely, you may be facing a difficult conversation. Read more about how to confront an aging driver.

For alternative transportation options in your area, consider public transportation, a call-and-ride program, or Uber Caregivers. Uber Caregivers is a newly launching service that seeks to make it easier for patients get to medical appointments.

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