Texas Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

Learn about driving provisions and special programs focused on keeping both older drivers and roadways safe in Texas.

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In Texas, driver license matters are handled by the Department of Public Safety (DPS); vehicle registration, license plates and disability parking issues are overseen by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

While the myriad rules and regulations that exist apply to Texas drivers of all ages and stages, the state imposes some special requirements and restrictions on older drivers. Specifically, Texas:

  • requires drivers ages 79 to 84 to renew their licenses in person every 6 years; those 85 and older must renew in person every two years
  • requires drivers age 79 and over to take a vision test and submit to a medical evaluation process when renewing their licenses, and
  • accepts requests from doctors, family members and others for the DMV to conduct unsafe driver investigations.

License Renewal Rules for Older Drivers

Special rules apply to drivers who are 79 and older who seek to renew their licenses.

Time limits: Drivers ages 78 and under must renew every 12 years; those meeting specific eligibility requirements may renew in one of four ways:

  • online
  • by phone—call 866-357-3639
  • by mail—those who receive an invitation to renew by mail must follow the instructions on it, or
  • in person at a local licensing office.

Drivers ages 79 to 84 must renew in person every six years; those 85 and older must renew on their second birthday after the previous expiration date.

Vision test: Required at in-person renewal. Applicants who may need to be assessed more accurately or whose eyesight is less than 20/70 with correction or 20/40 without correction will be directed to be examined by an outside vision specialist, who must complete an Eye Specialist form.

Knowledge test: May be required if DPS personnel deem it necessary.

Road test: May be required if DPS personnel deem it necessary.

Possible License Restrictions

The DPS 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 Texas, other common requirements the DPS may impose on older drivers include:

  • no freeway driving
  • driving only when another driver age 21 or older is in the front seat
  • daytime only driving
  • speed not to exceed 45 miles per hour
  • hearing aids while driving, and
  • vehicles equipped with outside mirrors, automatic transmissions or power steering.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in Texas

The Texas DPS will accept written concerns about drivers who may have a medical condition that could affect the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle from any person with knowledge of the driver’s condition; such reports may be made anonymously. All concerns may be summarized on an Examination/Investigation Request form.

Completed forms may be submitted to the DPS by mail, fax, or email.

Mailing address:

Texas Department of Public Safety

Enforcement and Compliance Service

P.O. Box 4087?Austin, TX 78773-0320

Fax: 512-424-5311

Email: MAB@dps.texas.gov

After reviewing an unsafe driver report, the DPS may require the driver to take additional vision, knowledge or driving tests or be examined by a licensed doctor who must supply additional medical information.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Texas, contact one of the DPSdriver license offices throughout the state.

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

For a synopsis of parking regulations for disabled drivers, see the downloadable pamphlet, “Disabled Placards & Plates: Where You Can Park.”

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to Texas drivers who have impaired vision or mobility if a licensed healthcare provider certifies the condition.

To qualify as a visual disability, a person must have visual acuity of:

  • 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, or
  • more than 20/200, but a limited field of vision in which the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less.

The placards and plates are also available for individuals with physical limitations, including those who:

  • cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair or other assistive device
  • are severely restricted by lung disease
  • use portable oxygen
  • have a severe cardiac condition
  • are severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition, or
  • have a foot disorder or other condition that severely limits the ability to walk.

To obtain a disabled placard or plate:

  • Complete and sign an Application for Persons With Disabilities Parking Placard and/or License Plate.
  • Have a licensed physician, podiatrist, optometrist, physician’s assistant, or advanced practice nurse complete the Disability Statement portion of the form.
  • Include a fee of $5 for a parking placard for a temporary condition; permanent plates and placards are free.
  • Mail the original application to the address on the form.

Learn More About Texas Driving Rules for Seniors

Websites run by both the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) contain a wealth of information for the state's drivers, including links to the controlling laws.

Of special interest is the downloadable Texas Driver’s Handbook in English or Spanish, which includes information on licensing, registering vehicles and rules of the road.

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 Texas.

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