Massachusetts Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

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

The myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) apply to drivers of all ages and stages—and the state claims to impose no special requirements on drivers based solely on age.

However, a couple of the Massachusetts rules seem to focus on identifying and handling older drivers who may have become unsafe behind the wheel.

Specifically, Massachusetts:

  • requires drivers age 75 and older to renew their licenses in person, and
  • accepts requests from interested parties for the RMV to conduct unsafe driver investigations.

License Renewal Rules for Older Drivers

Special rules apply to drivers who are 75 and older who seek to renew their licenses.

Time limits: Drivers age 75 and older must renew in person every five years.

To make the process more efficient, drivers are advised to complete an online questionnaire; then download, print and sign the application included there and bring it to any RMV Branch office.

Vision test: Required at in-person renewal. RMV personnel will conduct a test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist, who must complete a Class D and M Vision Screening Certificate and conduct the exam within one year of the renewal request.

Written test: May be required if there are indications of driver impairment.

Road test: May be required if there are indications of driver impairment.

Possible License Restrictions

The RMV 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 Massachusetts, other common requirements the RMV may impose on older drivers include:

  • driving only while wearing a prosthetic aid
  • vehicles equipped with adaptive devices
  • vehicles with automatic transmission
  • an outside mirror on a vehicle
  • no nighttime driving
  • time of day restrictions—for example, no driving during rush hour traffic
  • wearing bioptic telescopic lens when driving, and
  • other restrictions tailored to the driver’s particular medical condition.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts RMV will accept information from any person with information about a driver’s potentially unsafe driving. Anonymity is not guaranteed. Concerns should be reported in writing on a Request for Medical Evaluation Form and faxed or mailed to the Medical Affairs office as directed on the form.

Elder Outreach Program in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts RMV offers free, hour-long presentations for older drivers, their family members, caregivers and relevant organizations focusing on safe driving for seniors and the ins and outs of getting disability plates and placards in the state. To attend a presentation, complete a request form and mail or email it as directed.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Massachusetts, see “Suspensions & Hearings: Discretionary/Public Safety Suspensions.”

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

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers with impaired mobility if a licensed medical practitioner certifies the condition.

The placards and plates are available for 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
  • have severe lung disease
  • use portable oxygen
  • have a severe cardiac condition
  • have severe arthritis
  • have been declared legally blind, or
  • have lost one or more limbs or the use of them.

For complete instructions for obtaining a disabled placard or plate, see “Medical Affairs & Disabled Parking.”

Learn More About Massachusetts Driving Rules for Seniors

The RMV website contains a wealth of information for Massachusetts drivers, including explanations of licensing drivers and registering vehicles.

Of particular interest is the downloadable “Driver’s Manual” in English or Spanish, which contains safety tips and explanations of local rules of the road. The RMV also maintains a page on its web site dedicated to “Mature Drivers.”

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 Massachusetts.

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