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Licensing renewal provisions can be tougher for older drivers

January 28, 2012
By DAVE WERNER ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

License renewal in NYS is every eight years, with no special provisions for older drivers. The last time my now-deceased mother-in-law renewed her license, she was 88 years old and was surprised that her new license didn't expire until she was 96. Incidentally, she gave up the privilege to drive shortly after her renewal. The point here is that all she had to do was to pass an eye test and was good to go until 96.

There are, however, two aspects of license renewal that vary significantly in other states: the length of time between renewals and additional requirements that may be imposed on older drivers. Such requirements exist in 28 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Renewal procedures for drivers older than a specified age typically 65 or 70 include accelerated renewal cycles that provide for shorter periods between renewals, a requirement to renew in person rather than electronically or by mail where remote renewal is permitted, and additional testing not routinely required of younger drivers (vision and road testing, for example).

If a person's continued fitness to drive is in doubt because of a history of crashes or violations, reports by physicians or police, or others, state licensing agencies, including New York, may require renewal applicants to undergo physical or mental examinations or retake the standard licensing tests (vision, written, and road). 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 limit driving to specified places or a limited radius from the driver's home, according to the IIHS.

Although in New York, the renewal cycle is eight years, many states have renewal cycles of only four years. Some, however, have a 10-year renewal cycle, but each state that does also has shorter renewal cycles for older drivers. Of those states with tougher renewals, here are some examples of special provisions for older drivers:

-Renewal cycles as short as one year for drivers 87 and older (Illinois)

-Road test every four years for 75 and over (Illinois)

-Reaction testing for renewal applicants over 70 (District of Columbia)

So, you can see renewal of your license is rather easy in New York. Other states are much tougher. Should we get tougher in New York? What is your opinion?

Next week we'll discuss what can be done to get a poor driver re-tested by the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. This doesn't apply just to elderly drivers, but anyone exhibiting poor driving behavior.

For more information on traffic safety, go to Franklin County TSB at: and under departments, click on Traffic Safety Board.



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