Special criteria for California seniors renewing driver's license

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Special criteria for California senior drivers

California drivers aged 70 and older face special conditions when renewing or applying for a driver's license.

California drivers aged 70 and older face special conditions when renewing or applying for a driver's license.

Senior drivers are required to renew their license in person unless directed otherwise by the DMV. They must undergo a vision test and pass a multiple-choice knowledge exam.

If a senior driver fails the written test, their license could be extended by 30 days unless they retake and pass the test sooner.

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A recent change in the law permits those under 80 years old to take the written test online, but they still must appear in person for the vision test.

"A lot of senior citizens don't feel they're getting a fair shake," said Attorney Rodney Gould, whose statewide law practice has assisted seniors with driver's license renewal issues.

Certain seniors fear that being prohibited from driving will shut them off from society.

"I've seen the test, I've looked at many of them. There's always some questions on there that just make zero sense and they really have almost nothing to do with driving," Gould said.

He believes the law should be updated.

"This law goes back probably 40 or 50 years," he said. "I think probably 40 or 50 years ago, a 70-year-old was probably older than what we consider a 70-year-old today."

Advancements in healthcare, nutrition, safer vehicles, and medicine have extended both lifespan and driving years.

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"There's probably no reason, in reality, to say, once you're over 70 you have to be examined," Gould said.

However, instances arise where a driver's declining mental or physical capabilities suggest they can no longer drive safely. In such cases, anyone can submit a Request for Driver Reexamination.

Confidentiality is protected unless the submission was made with malicious intent. Failure to comply with a reexamination request results in automatic license suspension.

"In most cases, drivers can provide explanations or medical evaluations to contest concerns. Often, it's a single hearing before a hearing officer to resolve the matter," Gould explained.

"Most of the time, they can explain what's going on or explain the accident. They can submit the doctor's evaluation that they have no cognitive deficiencies and or pass the test and, oftentimes, it's one hearing in front of a hearing officer. You prove yourself and everybody moves on," said Gould.