Road Injury Prevention Litigation Journal
Road Injury Prevention & Litigation Journal
April, 2001
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U.S. Driver Licensing Renewal Procedures for Older Drivers

(This article is reproduced, with permission, from the website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at http://www.highwaysafety.org. The material in this article is up to date as of October 25, 1999.)

Initial licensing procedures vary substantially in the United States. Renewal procedures, however, are not as varied. Applicants' driving records are checked to ensure there are no suspensions or revocations and, if not, upon payment of renewal fees new licenses are issued. Most states require renewal applicants to appear in person and to pass a vision test. The significant differences are the length of time between renewals, ranging from 2 to 8 years, and the existence of provisions in 20 states and the District of Columbia designed to guarantee that older adults continue to meet license requirements.

Renewal procedures for older drivers include accelerated renewal cycles that provide for shorter renewal intervals for drivers older than a specified age, typically 65 or 70; a requirement that they renew their licenses in person rather than electronically or by mail where remote renewal is permitted; and testing that is not routinely required of younger drivers (vision and road tests, for example). These special renewal procedures for older drivers apply in addition to the license renewal procedures that exist in all states for dealing with licensed drivers of any age who no longer meet the standards for licensure because of physical or mental infirmities.

If a person's continued fitness to drive is in doubt, because of the person's appearance or demeanor at renewal or because of a history of crashes or violations, reports by physicians, police, and others, state licensing agencies may require renewal applicants to undergo physical or mental examinations or retake the standard licensing tests (vision, written, and road). States typically have medical review boards composed of health care professionals who advise on licensing standards and on individual cases in which a person's ability to drive safely is in doubt.

After reviewing a person's fitness to drive, the licensing agency may allow the person to retain the license, refuse to renew the license, or suspend, revoke, or restrict the license. Typical restrictions prohibit nighttime driving, require the vehicle to have additional mirrors, or restrict driving to specified places or a limited radius from the driver's home. Where the renewal cycle is not shorter for older drivers, licensing agencies have the authority to shorten the renewal cycle for individual license holders if their condition warrants.

The following chart indicates for the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia the periods for which licenses can be renewed, any accelerated renewal periods for older drivers, and other miscellaneous provisions applicable to older drivers.

Please direct any questions or comments to Michele Fields at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1005 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22201-4751; Tel. 703/247- 1500; Fax 703/247-1586.

State Length of
Renewal Cycle
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR OLDER DRIVERS
Accelerated Renewal Other Provisions

Alabama

4 yr.

None

None

Alaska

5 yr.

None

Mail renewal not available to people 69 and older and to people whose prior renewal was by mail.

Arizona

Until age 651

5 yr. for people 65 and older

People 70 and older may not renew by mail.

Arkansas

4 yr.

None

None

California

5 yr.

None

At age 70, mail renewal is prohibited. No more than two sequential mail renewals are permitted, regardless of age.

Colorado

10 yr. (eff. 7/1/01)

5 yr. for people 61 and older (eff. 7/1/01)

Mail renewal not available to people 66 and older and to people whose prior renewal was by mail.

Connecticut

4 yr.

None that are safety related2

None that are safety related2

Delaware

5 yr.

None

None

District of Columbia

5 yr.

None

None

Florida

6 yr. with clean record; 4 yr. otherwise

None

None3


State Length of
Renewal Cycle
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR OLDER DRIVERS
Accelerated Renewal Other Provisions

Georgia

4 yr.

None

None

Hawaii

6 yr.

2 yr. for people 72 and older

None

Idaho

4 yr.

Drivers ages 21-62 have the choice of a 4- or 8-yr. license; drivers 63 and older will receive a 4-yr. license

None

Illinois

4 yr.

2 yr. for drivers ages 81-86; 1 yr. for drivers 87 and older

Renewal applicants 75 and older must take a road test.

Indiana

4 yr.

3 yr. for drivers 75 and older

None4

Iowa

2 or 4 yr. at driver's option

2 yr. for drivers 70 and older

None

Kansas

6 yr.

4 yr. for drivers 65 and older

None

Kentucky

4 yr.

None

None

Louisiana

4 yr.

None

Mail renewal not available to people 70 and older and to people whose prior renewal was by mail.

Maine

6 yr.

4 yr. for drivers 65 and older

Vision test required at first renewal after driver's 40th birthday and at every second renewal until age 62; thereafter, at every renewal.


State Length of
Renewal Cycle
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR OLDER DRIVERS
Accelerated Renewal Other Provisions

Maryland

5 yr.

None

None that are safety related5

Massachusetts

5 yr.

None

None that are safety related5

Michigan

4 yr.

None

None

Minnesota

4 yr.

None

None that are safety related5

Mississippi

4 yr.

None

None

Missouri

6 yr.

3 yr. for drivers 69 and older and 21 and younger

None

Montana

8 yr. or 4yr. if by mail

4 yr. for drivers 75 and older

None

Nebraska

5 yr.

None

None

Nevada

4 yr.

None

None that are safety related5

New Hampshire

4 yr.

None

Renewal applicants age 75 and older must take a road test.


State Length of
Renewal Cycle
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR OLDER DRIVERS
Accelerated Renewal Other Provisions

New Jersey

4 yr.

None

None

New Mexico

4 or 8 yr. at driver's option

4 yrs. for drivers who would turn 75 in the last half of an 8-yr. renewal cycle

None

New York

5 yr.

None

None

North Carolina

5 yr.

None

People 60 and older are not required to parallel park in the road test.

North Dakota

4 yr.

None

None

Ohio

4 yr.

None

None

Oklahoma

4 yr.

None

None that are safety related6

Oregon

4 yr.

None

Vision screening is required every 8 yr. for drivers 50 and older.

Pennsylvania

4 yr.

None

None

Rhode Island

5 yr.

2 yr. for drivers 70 and older

None


State Length of
Renewal Cycle
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR OLDER DRIVERS
Accelerated Renewal Other Provisions

South Carolina

6 yr.

None

None

South Dakota

5 yr.

None

None

Tennessee

5 yr.

None

Licenses issued to people 65 and older do not expire 6

Texas

6 yr.

None

None

Utah

5 yr.

None

Vision test required for people 65 and older

Vermont

4 yr.

None

None

Virginia

5 yr.

None

None

Washington

5 yr.

None

None

West Virginia

5 yr.

None

None

Wisconsin

8 yr.

None

None

Wyoming

4 yr.

None

None


1In Arizona, the license is valid until age 65.

2In Connecticut, people 65 and older may choose a 2-year renewal cycle. A personal appearance at renewal generally is required. Upon a showing of hardship, people 65 and older may renew by mail.

3In Florida, only two successive renewals may be made electronically or by mail, regardless of age.

4In Indiana, until December 3, 1998, renewal applicants 75 and older were required to take a road test.

5Some states' licensing laws specifically prohibit licensing administrators from treating people differently solely by virtue of advanced age. Maryland law specifies that age alone is not a grounds for reexamination of drivers; applicants for an initial license age 70 and older must provide proof of previous satisfactory operation of a vehicle or physician's certificate of fitness. Massachusetts law prohibits discrimination by reason of age with regard to licensing. Minnesota and Nevada law specify that age alone is not a justification for reexamination. In Nevada, applicants for mail renewal age 70 and older must include a medical report.

6License fee reduced for drivers 62-64 and are waived for drivers 65 and older in Oklahoma; fees are reduced for drivers 60 and older in Tennessee.


©2001, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute
Last modified:
27-Mar-2001



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