The number of Pennsylvania drivers age 65 and older reached nearly 2 million recently—and is growing yearly. While the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state imposes some special requirements and restrictions on older drivers.
Pennsylvania state rules are explained in more detail below, but a couple of them focus on identifying and handling older drivers who may have become unsafe.
Pennsylvania operates a unique program in which nearly 2,000 drivers over the age of 45 are chosen at random each month to have vision and physical exams.
Time limits: All drivers must renew every four years.
Vision test: May be required if driver is randomly chosen for retesting.
Physical fitness test: May be required if driver is randomly chosen for retesting.
Written test: May be required at the discretion of DOT personnel.
Road test: May be required at the discretion of DOT personnel.
The DOT can place restrictions or conditions on a person’s driver's 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 Pennsylvania, other common requirements the DOT may impose on older drivers include driving only:
The Pennsylvania DOT will accept information from medical practitioners, police family members, and other concerned individuals who have information that a person may have become unsafe behind the wheel.
To request that the DOT review driving qualifications, write a detailed letter regarding your observations and the driver's specific medical impairments. The letter must also include your name and contact information.
Mail the letter to:
Driver Qualifications Section
P.O. Box 68682
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17106-8682
Or fax the letter to: (717) 705-4415
Additional information is available on the Medical Reporting section of the DOT site.
Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that require medical practitioners—which includes all physicians, chiropractors, physician assistants, certified registered nurse practitioners, and others authorized to diagnose or treat disorders and disabilities—to report within 10 days, in writing, the full name, address, and date of birth of every person over 15 years old diagnosed as having a condition that could impair his or her ability to drive.
For detailed information on the requirements of medical reporting, as well as downloadable forms, see the DOT’s Medical Reporting Information Center.
Drivers can improve their skills by taking an education and training class specifically developed for older drivers. Local course offerings approved by the DOT called “Mature Driver Improvement Courses” are listed on the DOT website.
For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Pennsylvania, contact one of the DOT Driver License Offices located throughout the state.
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:
To obtain a disabled placard or plate:
For more information, see the comprehensive section on the DOT’s website, “Person With Disability Parking Placards/Plates.”
The DOT website has a wealth of information for Pennsylvania drivers, including licensing and vehicle registration requirements.
Of special interest is the “Older Driver Information Center,” which includes advice on recognizing and assessing vision and cognitive impairment and conditions that may affect driving, along with other targeted and practical information for older drivers.
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 Pennsylvania.