My Dad turns 80 next month and his driver’s license is up for renewal.

My Dad turns 80 next month and his driver’s license is up for renewal.

MyOur family is hoping the RMV doesn’t renew my 80 year old father’s drivers license because we think his driving is dangerous, but he insists on driving. What can we do?

In the United States, getting one’s driver’s license is a rite of passage. Access to a car or other vehicle allows great freedom and independence: to go where we wish, do what we wish, and do it on our own schedules. Understandably, when we, or our elderly dependents, are told we can no longer drive, there will be a good deal of resistance and a tough pill to swallow.

In Massachusetts, there is not an age at which a driver’s license is automatically revoked. However, beginning at age seventy-five, drivers must renew their license in-person at the Registry of Motor Vehicles [RMV] rather than online. At the RMV, such a driver will have to undergo a vision test, or otherwise bring proof of a vision screening with a qualified provider. For the most part, though, Massachusetts relies on drivers to self-report any age-related disabilities or impairments. If a senior driver voluntarily surrenders their license, they will receive a free Massachusetts state identification card.

For families concerned about an elderly parent or other relative, there are limited options. There is an official way to report a medically impaired driver and request that the state force them to submit to a medical examination. It called a Medical Evaluation Form and is completed by a physician. The physician states whether, or not, the driver is qualified to continue driving, whether they need adaptive equipment to drive or whether the doctor recommends a new driving test be administered. While family members may use this form, it is mostly geared towards medical and law enforcement professionals who have a concerning encounter with a senior driver.

With the official report, there is always the risk that the senior driver will be found just-barely competent to drive. Additionally, it will not make the senior in question too happy, but it may keep them safe.

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