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When Are Senior Citizens Too Old To Drive

Young California drivers with a good traffic record can renew their license for five-year periods on a two-year basis.

But people over the age of 70 must go to a DMV office and perform a written test and undergo an eye examination.

There is no age limit for driving a car in California.

The state does not keep statistics of how many drivers are 100-years-old or older.

However, at the end of 2016, 71,111 people aged 90 and older were licensed to drive in the state.

Statistics do not support the idea that older drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents.

On average, drivers aged 85 to 90 have a lower accident rate per mile than 20-year-old drivers, police reports said.

And yet none of those groups do as badly as teenagers, who are the most dangerous drivers in the country, according to experts.

Possible License Restrictions

A restriction or condition is assigned on a person’s driver’s license when it is necessary to ensure that the person is driving within his or her capacity.

Restrictions and conditions vary and may include:

  • Requiring the person to put special mechanical devices in their vehicle
  • Limiting when and where a person can drive
  • Requiring glasses, corrective contact lenses, or other physical devices such as leg or arm prostheses

Restrictions may be discretionary (imposed by the department) or mandatory (required by law).

(Vehicle Code § 12812, 12813 and 13800)

For older drivers, most of the restrictions imposed are related to their more deteriorated physical conditions.

The most common physical restraint refers to sight because it deteriorates due to physiological changes in the eye in combination with the increase in different eye diseases.

As a person grows older other physical and/or mental restrictions are imposed when a person’s physical or mental health deteriorates and it is necessary to limit their driving.

The main restriction for older drivers is sight-related and usually requires the use of corrective glasses or lenses. Other common restrictions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Not being allowed to drive on freeways
  • Restricted to driving a vehicle with an additional mirror on the right
  • Restricted to driving from sunrise to sunset (cannot drive at night)
  • Restriction of time of day (for example: not driving during heavy traffic hours)
  • Being obligated to use proper support to ensure that they are in the correct position to drive
  • Restriction to driving only in a specific area
  • Being obligated to wear telescopic bioptic lenses when driving/restricted to driving from sunrise to sunset.


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How to Request An Unsafe Driver Investigation in California

  1. Call 911 and indicate that you want to report an unsafe driver. It is not necessary to give your name.
  2. Fully describe the vehicle, with information such as brand, model, color, and plate number.
  3. Give the exact location of the vehicle, including the name of the street, road or intersection, and the direction in which the vehicle is traveling.
  4. Describe how the suspect is driving.
  5. Do not attempt to stop the vehicle or its driver. Leave that task in the hands of the police officers.

California Ombudsman Program for Senior Drivers

In an ongoing effort to keep older people driving as long as they safely can, the DMV has created the Mediator Program for the Elderly.

There are four mediators assigned to this program who are located in different parts of California.

The primary function of the Mediators Program for Older Persons is to represent the interest of public safety for all Californians with a special interest in the concerns of older drivers.

The mediator can assist as an “intermediary” to ensure that older drivers are treated fairly, consistent with the laws and regulations, and with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

The mediator is available to assist in individual cases as well as to participate in community outreach seminars for large or small audiences, to promote road safety in California, with an emphasis on issues of the elderly.


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How to Get Parking Placards or License Plates For a Disabled Driver

You may qualify for a DP placard (for disabled person) if your mobility is impaired due to loss of use of one or both lower extremities.

Or both hands if you have been diagnosed with a disease that substantially impairs or interferes with your mobility, or if you are severely disabled and unable to move without the help of an auxiliary device.

You may also qualify for specific, documented visual problems including poor vision or partial vision.

How to request parking placards or license plates for a person with a disability (DP). To obtain a DP plate you must:

  • Complete and sign the Application for Placards or Disabled Persons License Plates (REG 195).
  • Have a licensed doctor, surgeon, chiropractor, optometrist, doctor’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or a certified midwife who has knowledge of the illness and/or disability sign on the “doctor’s certification” section on form REG 195.
  • Include payment when applying for a temporary placard.
  • Mail the original application once completed and signed to the address indicated on the form.

Top Reasons Older Citizens Should Stop Driving

An investigation by the Rand organization found that while drivers over 65 years of age were 16% more likely to cause an accident than drivers aged 25-64, drivers under 25 had 188% more probabilities of causing an accident than older adults.

This means that aging does not make you a bad driver, but you should know that, over time, there are changes that can affect your ability to drive.

  • Your body

As you get older, your joints may become stiff and your muscles may become weak.

This can make it more difficult to turn your head to look back, turn the wheel quickly or brake safely.

  • Your vision

Your vision may change as you get older.

At night, it may be difficult for you to see things clearly.

Glow or light reflections – from other car lights, street lamps or sunlight – can also be problematic.

It can be more difficult to see people, objects, and movements that are not within your direct line of sight.

It may take more time to read traffic signs or street signs and to even recognize known places.

Eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as some medications, can also affect your vision.

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