One out of every three licensed Wisconsin drivers is over the age of 55. While the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state may impose some special restrictions on older drivers.
State rules are explained in more detail below, but some focus on identifying and handling older drivers who may have become unsafe. For example, Wisconsin accepts and investigates reports of potentially unsafe drivers from medical personnel and any other concerned citizens. Additionally, drivers age 65 and older must renew their license in person.
Older drivers may be required to submit to extra testing when renewing their licenses.
Time limits: All drivers must renew their licenses every eight years. Drivers up to age 64 can renew their licenses online. Drivers age 65 and younger drivers every other renewal period must apply in person at a DMV Service Center.
Vision test: Required at in-person renewal. DMV personnel will conduct a test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by an outside licensed medical doctor, osteopath, optometrist, physician's assistant, or advance practice nurse prescriber, who must complete a Certificate of Vision Examination by Competent Authority and conduct the exam within 90 days of the renewal request.
Written test: May be required at renewal if DMV staff deem it necessary, or testing is requested by a medical worker, law enforcement officer, or other person with knowledge of the driver's abilities.
Highway sign identification test: Administered along with the written test, but scored separately.
Road test: May be required at renewal if DMV staff deem it necessary, or if testing is requested by a medical worker, law enforcement officer, or other person with knowledge of the driver's abilities.
The DMV 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 Wisconsin, other common requirements the DMV may impose on older drivers include:
The DMV accepts and investigates written concerns about unsafe driving from medical doctors, osteopaths, advanced practice nurse prescribers, or any other concerned individuals.
Medical personnel can initiate a report by completing a Medical Examination Report.
Other concerned individuals can complete a Driver Condition or Behavior Report.
Personnel at the Medical Review Office will then evaluate whether or not a medical condition affects a driver's ability to drive safely.
Specifics that may be reported include a driver's:
Once the report is received, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) office may request an additional medical report from a physician or other treatment personnel. That report must be competed on the other side of the Driver Condition or Behavior Report.
If a medical doctor, osteopath, or advanced practice nurse prescriber initiates the report, which he or she may do without the patient's consent, a driver's license may be canceled immediately.
Wisconsin has an open records law, which means that the reported driver can find out who filed the report about him or her. However, a person who has good reason to remain anonymous may request a Pledge of Confidentiality form, which must be signed in the presence of a Department of Transportation representative.
Depending on the nature of the driver's limitation, and the contents of the report, the Wisconsin DOT may require a:
It can then evaluate the results and decide whether to cancel a license or issue a restricted license.
For detailed information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Wisconsin, see "How to reinstate a driver's license or driving privilege."
Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers who:
For detailed information about applying for plates and parking permits for those with temporary or permanent disabilities, see "Disabled parking license plates."
The DMV website has a wealth of information for Wisconsin drivers, including links to driver license handbooks in English, Spanish and Hmong.
It also has a page dedicated to resources and information for Senior Drivers. Of special interest is the Older Driver Workbook: Be Safe, Not Sorry, which includes advice on assessing driving skills, along with suggestions for finding local alternative transportation sources.
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 Wisconsin.
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