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California Driving Laws for Seniors

Elderly DriversAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012, as many as 5,560 people over the age of 65 were killed and more than 214,000 suffered injuries due to car accidents nationwide. In other words, approximately 15 elderly drivers die and 586 are injured in motor vehicle accidents in the United States every day. In many cases, this high rate of accidents among the elderly is the result of age-related issues like vision and hearing loss, slower reaction time, poor muscle and joint health, decreased cognitive function, and general physical decline. Fortunately, California has laws in place specifically aimed at protecting people from being involved in avoidable accidents involving elderly drivers.

Current Law

Despite the high incidence of fatal car crashes that are caused by age-related factors, California does not have a maximum age at which people can no longer drive. However, all drivers over the age of 70 do not have the option of renewing their licenses via mail or the internet and must do so in person by passing vision and written tests. The Department of Motor Vehicles can also require seniors to take a driving test if a relative or physician requests that an instructor assess the individual’s ability to drive safely despite a physical or mental condition.

Mandatory Reporting for Doctors

California requires doctors who diagnose a patient with any disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness, Alzheimer’s disease, or another condition that impairs driving to report the diagnosis to the local health department. The health department must, in turn, forward the information to the DMV which can choose to require a driving test to ensure that the individual is capable of driving responsibly.

Confidential Reporting by Citizens

California law also allows confidential reporting of unsafe drivers and the DMV has an office dedicated to receiving any reports of potentially unsafe drivers. The office will investigate the claim and may require the driver to take a road test based on its findings.

License Restrictions

In some instances, the DMV can place restrictions on a person’s license if he or she struggled with a driving test. Typically, elderly drivers are required to wear glasses or corrective contact lenses. In California, some other common license restrictions often imposed on older drivers include:

  • No driving on the freeway;
  • An additional right side mirror;
  • No nighttime driving and other time of day restrictions;
  • Supports to ensure an appropriate driving position; and
  • Geographic area restrictions.

Regardless of the age of the other driver, it is extremely important that, if you have been injured in a car crash, you seek the advice of an experienced attorney as soon as possible to help you protect your rights and receive compensation for your injuries. Please contact the passionate San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. to schedule a free consultation.

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