While the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) apply to drivers of all ages and stages, some special requirements and restrictions are imposed on older drivers.
The District of Columbia 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, the District of Columbia:
All DC drivers who renew their licenses after May 1, 2014 must comply with a one-time revalidation of their identities and be issued a REAL ID card, aimed at improving the reliability and accuracy of driver’s licenses, making them more difficult to forge. When renewing, drivers will need to bring documents verifying their REAL ID Credentials, to one of the approved service locations.
After the initial REAL ID is issued, unique rules apply to DC drivers who are 70 and older who seek to renew their licenses.
Time limits: Every eight years. Drivers under age 70 may be eligible to renew online. Drivers age 70 and older must renew in person and have a doctor complete the Medical Fitness and Mature Driver Certification portions of the driver's license application.
Vision test: Required for drivers 70 years and older. Those who fail the screening by the DMV representative will be required to complete a Medical/Eye Report, which must also be completed by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Written test: Required if license has been expired for more than 365 days.
Road test: Required if license has been expired for more than 545 days. Senior drivers may be required to take the test if DMV personnel observe it to be necessary or if there have been reports of potential unsafe driving.
The DMV can place restrictions on a DC driver’s license. The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses. Daytime-only licenses are also available if indicated.
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 you to equip your vehicle with window tinting films or applications that exceed the regulatory limit.
The District of Columbia DMV will accept information from the driver himself or herself, family members, law enforcement officers, or doctors.
Self-reporting. Drivers who have a medical condition that may impair the ability to safely operate a vehicle, even temporarily, must provide the DMV with various portions of a Medical/Eye Report completed by a licensed physician, ophthalmologist, or optometrist and possibly take additional tests.
Some of these conditions and requirements include:
Reporting by others. If the DMV receives a detailed, written statement from a family member, law enforcement officer, or physician related to an individual’s unsafe driving, the driver must complete a Medical Report and possibly complete other driving tests. For additional information, call 202-737-4404.
The DMV has approved two online programs as DC Defensive Driving Courses—recommended both for those concerned about another person’s driving abilities, and for individuals who want to refresh their own driving skills and knowledge.
Courses are offered by:
For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in the District of Columbia, contact one of the DMV offices located throughout the state.
Disabled person parking placards and license tags can be issued to drivers who apply in person and who have a missing lower extremity or are unable to walk without a motorized wheelchair.
Others may apply for a short-term or long-term disability tag or parking placard if a licensed physician certifies the condition. The placards and plates are available for a driver who:
Short-term tags and placards are available for those who have temporary physical disabilities that impair their mobility; a doctor must estimate the likely duration of the disability.
Steps required to obtain a disabled placard or tag are:
1. Complete and sign the Disability Parking Placard and/or Tags Application.
The form is available for download in:
2. Have a licensed physician complete the Medical Information section of the application.
3. Mail or fax the original application to the address indicated on the form.
The DMV website has a wealth of information for District of Columbia drivers, including explanations of licensing requirements and rules of the road.
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 the District of Columbia.