Tennessee Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

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

Updated by , Attorney University of Arkansas School of Law
Updated 5/14/2024

Most of the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Tennessee Driver Services Division (DSD) apply to drivers of all ages and stages—and the state claims it imposes no special rules on drivers based on age alone.

Still, some of the legal controls discussed here, such as possible restrictions on a driver's license and procedures for securing disability parking plates and placards, may be especially relevant for older drivers.

License Renewal Rules for Older Drivers in Tennessee

Time limits: Drivers of all ages must renew their licenses every eight years.

Vision test: Required at renewal. DSD personnel will conduct a test free, or if more comprehensive testing is required, drivers may be required to have an exam performed by an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist, who must complete a Vision Examination Form.

Written test: May be required at the discretion of DSD personnel.

Road test: May be required at the discretion of DSD personnel.

Possible License Restrictions

The DSD can place restrictions or conditions on a person's driver's license if there is good cause to believe that safety requires them. The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.

In Tennessee, other common requirements the DSD may impose on older drivers include:

  • driving vehicles equipped with adaptive devices or equipment
  • wearing prosthetic or orthotic devices while driving,
  • driving only during daylight hours, and
  • other restrictions healthcare professionals may deem necessary.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in Tennessee

The Tennessee DSD will accept information from a family member, physical or emergency medical technician, or police officer that a driver may have become unsafe behind the wheel.

Those who wish to file such a report should submit all details of their concern in writing to:

Tennessee Department of Safety
Driver Improvement Section
1150 Foster Avenue
Nashville, TN 37243

Reporting Requirement for Drivers

When renewing a license in Tennessee, drivers are asked to verify that they are physically and emotionally fit to drive. Those with significant health problems—including diabetes, pulmonary or neurologic, psychiatric, emotional, or other conditions that may impede driving—may be required to be examined by a healthcare professional who must complete a comprehensive Medical Form.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Tennessee, contact one of the Driver Service Centers 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 drivers with impaired mobility if a licensed medical practitioner certifies the condition.

The placards and plates are available for those who:

  • are disabled by paraplegia, the amputation of a leg, foot, or both hands
  • cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • are severely restricted by lung disease
  • have a severe cardiac condition, or
  • are severely limited in the ability to walk or get about and are being treated by a Christian Science practitioner.

To obtain a disabled placard or plate:

  • Complete and sign an Application for Disabled Person License Plate, Placard and/or Decal.
  • Have a licensed medical doctor or Christian Science practitioner listed in the Christian Science Journal complete the Certification of Disability portion of the application.
  • Include a fee of $10 for a parking placard for a temporary condition; permanent plates and placards are free in some circumstances (if a vehicle isn't registered in your name, a permanent placard is $26.50, plus a $3 renewal fee each year; if you don't use a wheelchair, plates are $26.50 per year).
  • Mail the original application to the local county clerk's office.

More About Tennessee Driving Rules

The Driver Services Division (DSD) website contains some basic information for Tennessee drivers, including licensing and vehicle registration requirements.

Of special interest is the "Comprehensive Driver License Manual," which includes explanations of the laws and regulations that apply to Tennessee drivers, as well as local rules of the road.

You can also visit the Tennessee Highway Safety Office's Older Driver Safety page or the Tennessee Department of Transportation's downloadable brochure on Driver Safety for Tennessee Seniors.

Where to Find a Lawyer for Help

If you need help with an auto accident or traffic ticket, you can browse the free lawyer directories on Lawyers.com or Avvo.com, two sites that are part of the Nolo family.

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