Older drivers in Virginia will face greater scrutiny next year with requirements that they apply for license renewals in person and that they renew their licenses more frequently.
Beginning on the first of the year, drivers over 75 years of age won’t be permitted to renew their license online or by mail. They will have to apply in person at one of the Commonwealth’s Department of Motor Vehicles offices. And rather than renew every eight years, they will be required to do so every five years.
Until Jan. 1, the in-person renewal requirements in Virginia apply only to drivers age 80 and older.
Virginia joins 32 other states and the District of Columbia in enacting special provisions for older drivers. An estimated 12.5 percent of the population in Virginia is 65 or older; nationwide, 10,000 Americans turn 65 daily.
“Senior drivers favor tougher driving laws and an overwhelming majority support greater scrutiny in the license-renewal process for themselves and their peers,” said John B. Townsend II of AAA. “Remarkably, support for these measures was greatest among drivers 75 and older.”
District law specifies that while a driver should not be required to retake the written or road test based solely on age, drivers seeking license renewal at age 70 or beyond must provide a doctor’s statement certifying they are physically and mentally competent to drive. They also are required to take a vision test, and some are required to take a reaction test. The length of the renewal cycle remains eight years for older drivers, the same as it is for all other D.C.-licensed drivers.
In Maryland , the length of the regular renewal cycle for drivers of all ages is expanding to eight years. A vision test is required for each renewal beginning at the age 40.
“Some states’ licensing laws specifically prohibit licensing administrators from treating people differently solely by virtue of advanced age,” according to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety. “Maryland law specifies that age alone is not 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.”