A restriction or condition is placed on a person’s driver license by the DMV when it is necessary to ensure the person is driving within his/her ability. Restrictions and conditions vary and may include:
- Requiring the person to place special mechanical devices on his/her vehicle,
- Limiting when and where a person may drive, or
- Requiring eye glasses, corrective contact lenses, or other physical devices such as leg or arm prosthetics.
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 relate to declining physical conditions. The most common physical restriction is related to vision because vision declines due to physiologic changes of the eye along with an increased occurrence of certain vision diseases as a person ages. Other physical and/or mental restrictions are imposed when a person’s physical or mental health declines, and it is necessary to restrict driving.
What sorts of physical and/or mental conditions can affect an older driver’s safe driving ability?
Driving is an activity that uses a number of cognitive skills in a complex and concurrent manner. These cognitive skills include memory, visual processing, attention, and the ability to analyze driving-related situations to make appropriate decisions. Medical conditions and medications common to seniors have an impact on cognitive abilities.
Your muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, and muscle reaction to stimuli are all necessary for operating your vehicle and for turning your head to view traffic. Age-related physical changes and musculoskeletal diseases (such as arthritis) may affect your ability to drive safely and comfortably.
How do you get a restricted driver license?
Any restriction placed on your driver license will be based on a driving examiner’s findings and recommendations. The driving examiner will look at the results of your driving test, vision test, and consider your individual circumstances.
Sometimes a restriction is added because of volunteered information about a physical or mental disability. Often, a person with a physical or mental condition is referred to DMV by a family member, a doctor, or by law enforcement.
What are the most common restrictions for older drivers?
The number one restriction for senior drivers is vision-related and usually requires the driver to wear glasses or corrective contact lenses. Other common restrictions include, but are not limited to:
- No freeway driving
- Driving a vehicle with an additional right side mirror
- Driving from sunrise to sunset (no nighttime driving)
- Time of day restriction (for example, not during rush hour traffic)
- Using adequate support to ensure proper driving position
- Area restriction
- Wearing bioptic telescopic lens when driving/restricted to driving from sunrise to sunset
A senior driver, who is aware that his/her driving skills are diminishing, will often restrict himself or herself. You may have already decided that you don’t like driving on certain roads or at certain times of the day. You may already stay off the freeway or only drive there during the day. These are some self-imposed restrictions that you place on yourself. They are also restrictions that DMV could place on a person’s driver license after a driving test and a discussion with the driver. With a restricted driver license, you may be able to continue driving.