Delaware Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

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

There are more than 250,000 drivers over the age of 60 in Delaware. While the myriad rules and regulations enforced by Delaware’s  Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV)  apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state may impose some special 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, Delaware accepts and investigates reports of potentially unsafe drivers from medical personnel and any other concerned citizens. And others offer privilege: Delaware drivers age 85 and older are automatically entitled to parking placards usually reserved for those with disabilities.

License Renewal Rules for Older Drivers

Older drivers may be required to submit to extra testing when renewing their licenses.

Time limits:  All drivers must renew their licenses in person every eight years at a local  DMV office.

Vision test:  Required at in-person renewal. DMV personnel will conduct a test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by an outside licensed optometrist of ophthalmologist, who must complete a  Report of Visual Status by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.

Written test:  Required only if DMV personnel deem it necessary.

Road test:  Required only if there are indications of driver impairment.

Possible License Restrictions

The DMV can place restrictions on a person’s driver license. The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses, but licenses restricting driving to daytime-only or requiring vehicles with specific equipment such as automatic transmissions are also available.

Vehicle Tint Medical Waiver

The DMV will issue a waiver to drivers with medical conditions requiring protection from sunlight or bright artificial light. The waiver, which requires a physician statement, authorizes a driver to equip a vehicle with window tinting films or applications that exceed the regulatory limit.

To apply for a waiver, the person with the medical condition must submit a  Vehicle Tint Waiver Request Form  available at the  local DMV office.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in Delaware

The DMV will accept information from a physician, member of the immediate family, the court or other person deemed “acceptable to the Secretary of Transportation.”

A person concerned that a driver’s mental or physical conditions may interfere with safe operation of a vehicle should report those concerns in writing to the DMV, which will be reviewed by the Secretary of Transportation.

If the Secretary determines that a licensed driver or applicant for a license may not be physically, visually, or mentally qualified to drive safely, the Secretary will mail to the driver or applicant a registered letter with return receipt requested stating the need for a medical or optometric evaluation along with instructions. Attached to the letter will be a  Medical Report of Physician’s Findings  for the practitioner to complete after examining the individual.

Reporting Requirements for Doctors

Licensed physicians in Delaware should report patients subject to “losses of consciousness due to disease of the central nervous system” to the DMV, which may suspend the driver’s license until further examination is conducted.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked, contact the  local DMV office.

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

Disabled person parking placards and license plates are issued to drivers age 85 and over upon proof of age. They can also be issued to drivers under age 85 who have impaired mobility if a licensed physician verifies their condition.

The placards and plates are also available for those who:

  • cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • cannot walk safely without 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 and limiting cardiac condition, or
  • are severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition.

Steps required to obtain a disabled placard or plate for drivers under age 85 are:

Drivers age 85 and over need only apply online by completing a form for a  New Handicap Placard.

Learn More About Delaware Driving Rules for Seniors

The  DMV website  has a wealth of information for Delaware drivers, including forms and information for licensing drivers and registering vehicles. Of special interest is the  Senior Driver page, which contains tips and self-assessment tests for older drivers.

The Delaware DMV also publishes a downloadable manual, “Paving the Road for Safer Senior Drivers,” available in  English  and  Spanish.

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 Delaware.

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