Most of the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) 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.
Time limits: All drivers must renew every six years. All drivers have the option to renew online.
Vision test: Required at in-person renewal. DOL personnel will conduct a test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist, who must complete a Vision Examination Report and conduct the exam within three months of the renewal request.
Written test: Not generally required at renewal.
Road test: Not generally required at renewal.
Medical screening: At renewal, drivers will be asked if they’ve had a recent lapse of consciousness. If so, they may be required to submit a Physical Examination Report.
The DOL can place restrictions or conditions on a person’s driver's license. The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.
In Washington, other common requirements the DOL may impose on older drivers include:
The Washington DOL will accept information from law enforcement officers, agency personnel, medical professionals, and concerned citizens who have personal knowledge that a driver may have become unsafe behind the wheel.
To make such a request, complete a form, Driver Evaluation Request, and mail it or take it to one of the DOL locations listed on the form. The DOL will not keep such requests confidential—and may release the requester’s name to the driver or his or her attorney.
For more information, see “Report Unsafe Drivers” on the Washington DOL website.
For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Washington, contact one of the Driver Licensing 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 are available for those who:
To obtain a disabled placard or plate:
The DOL website has a wealth of information for Washington drivers, including licensing and vehicle registration requirements.
Of special interest is the downloadable “Driver Guide,” which includes explanations of rules of the road as well as safe driving tips. and is available in:
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 Washington.