New York Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

Learn about driving provisions and special programs focused on keeping both New York's older drivers and roadways safe.

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While the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state imposes some special requirements and restrictions on older drivers.

State rules are explained in more detail below, but some focus on identifying and handling older drivers who may have become unsafe. For example, New York accepts and investigates reports of potentially unsafe drivers from medical personnel and any other concerned citizens.

License Renewal Rules for Older Drivers

There are no age-specific rules for New York drivers who seek to renew their licenses. All drivers must renew every two years, and can do so:

Vision test: Proof of adequate vision is required at every renewal. Drivers can secure this by either:

  • Taking a test from a provider who is listed in the DMV Online Vision Registry; the provider will submit proof of passing the test directly to the DMV, or
  • Obtaining a Vision Test Report and having a qualified provider complete it.

Providers may be:

  • a physician
  • a physician's assistant
  • an ophthalmologist
  • an optometrist
  • an optician
  • a registered nurse, or
  • a nurse professional.

Possible License Restrictions

The DMV can place restrictions or conditions on a person’s driver license after administering a driving test and discussing possible restrictions with him or her.

The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.

In New York, other common requirements the DMV may impose on older drivers include:

  • telescopic lenses
  • daylight only driving
  • hearing aids while driving
  • no driving on highways with off-ramps and on-ramps, and
  • special equipment on the vehicle—such as gas pedal extensions, hand-operated brakes, complete hand controls or full-view mirrors.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in New York

The New York DMV will accept information about an individual’s possible unsafe driving from those who know or have observed the driver. That includes:

  • police officers
  • doctors, who must complete a Physician’s Reporting Form, and
  • concerned individuals, who must complete a form titled Request for Driver Review and mail it to the address imprinted on it; they must also include their names and signatures. The DMV does not accept re-evaluation requests by phone or by email.

A license examiner from the DMV Testing and Investigation Unit review the request to determine whether the driver should be re-evaluated. If so, the DMV sends the driver a certified letter to request an in-person interview and evaluation.

New York Driver Improvement Programs

Drivers can improve their skills by enrolling in a driver rehabilitation program; additional driving training may be recommended.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in New York, contact one of the DMV Offices located throughout the state.

How to Get Parking Placards or License Plates for a Disabled Driver

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to New York drivers who have a temporary disability that affects the ability to move about without assistance, or a permanent disability, for those who:

  • use portable oxygen
  • are legally blind
  • have limited use or one or both legs
  • are unable to walk 200 feet without stopping
  • have a neuromuscular dysfunction that severely limits mobility
  • have a severe cardiac condition
  • are severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition
  • are restricted by a severe lung disease, or
  • have a physical or mental condition that makes it difficult to use public transportation.

Procedures for securing disability plates and parking placards differ slightly throughout the state. For detailed information, see “Parking for people with disabilities.”

Learn More About New York Driving Rules for Seniors

The DMV website has a wealth of information for New York drivers, including links to forms and a subscription service for electronic reminders about license and registration renewals. Of special interest is the Older Driver page, which includes advice on staying mobile and safe along with links to resources for older drivers and their families.

Where to Find a Lawyer for Help

You can use Nolo’s Lawyer Directory to find a local lawyer experienced in representing older people who need help with auto accidents or traffic tickets in New York.

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