Virginia Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

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

While the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Virginia  Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)  apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state imposes some special requirements and restrictions on older drivers.

Virginia state rules are explained in more detail below, but a number of them focus on identifying and handling older drivers who may have become unsafe. Specifically, Virginia:

  • requires drivers age 75 and older to renew every five years
  • requires drivers age 80 and older to renew their licenses in person and to take a vision test when doing so, and
  • accepts requests from 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 75 and older who seek to renew their licenses.

Time limits:  Drivers age 75 and older must renew every five years; drivers younger than 75 must renew every eight years. Drivers age 80 and older must renew in person.

Vision test:  Required at renewal for those age 80 and older. DMV personnel will conduct a test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist, who must complete a  Customer Vision Report  and conduct the exam within 90 days of the renewal request.

Written test:  May be required at renewal in the discretion of DMV personnel.

Road test:  May be required at renewal in the discretion of DMV personnel.

Possible License Restrictions

The DMV can place restrictions or conditions on a person’s driver license if it deems it necessary to keep the driver and roadways safe. In Virginia, the most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in Virginia

The Virginia DMV will accept requests to review driving fitness from anyone with personal knowledge that a driver may have become unsafe behind the wheel. Only requests that come from relatives or licensed medical professionals will be kept confidential from the driver.

To request that the DMV review driving qualifications, complete a  Medical Review Request.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Virginia, contact one of the  DMV Customer 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:

  • 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 assisting 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
  • have been diagnosed with a mental or developmental amentia or delay that impairs judgment
  • have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, or
  • are legally blind or deaf.

To obtain a disabled placard or plate:

  • Complete and sign a  Disabled Parking Placard or License Plates Application.
  • Have a licensed physician, chiropractor, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or podiatrist complete the Medical Certification portion of the application.
  • Include a fee of $5 for a parking placard; plates are free.
  • Mail the original application to the address on the form.

Learn More About Virginia Driving Rules

The  DMV website  offers basic information for Virginia drivers, including licensing and vehicle registration requirements.

Of special interest is the “Driver’s Manual,” available in  English  and  Spanish, which includes safe driving tips and a complete explanation of local rules of the road.

The DMV also offers a page on “Mature Driver Safety,” with specialized tips for older 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 Virginia.

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