Senior citizen couple driving

How to Renew Your License in California as a Senior Citizen

In California, 5.5 million registered drivers are over 55, and roughly 2.5 million of those are above the age of 70. Seniors who understand the subtleties of their driver’s license renewal have the best chance of continuing the freedom they enjoy with their cars.

Like all states, California has its specific list of qualifications that a driver must meet to earn their driver’s license. However, some special restrictions and requirements need to be completed by senior citizen drivers. These qualifications include a written test and a vision test. If additional information is needed or a senior has not initially passed the basic requirements for renewal, they may also need to participate in a senior driver training course. 

What are the Rules for my Senior Driver’s License Renewal in California?

In California, the DMV has a specific set of rules that apply to drivers over the age of 70. Doctors are mandated to report any diseases (including dementia and Alzheimer’s) to the California DMV. This information is entered into the driver’s record. Other listed requirements for senior license renewal are:

Time Constraints 

Drivers who are 70 years old or older must renew their licenses in person at a DMV location every five years. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, California now gives a one-year extension to all senior drivers whose licenses will expire between March 1st through December 31st of 2020. Their temporary waiver allows senior drivers to renew their license online, rather than in person. 

Vision Test

The California DMV also requires those over 70 to take an in-person vision test to renew a driver’s license. This test is conducted either by a DMV employee or an optometrist who completes a Report of Vision Examination within six months of a license renewal request. 

Written Test

A written test is also required of senior citizens for their license renewal request to be granted. To prepare for the driver’s test, know where your closest DMV is as these tests are conducted in person. The test measures whether the 70+-year-old driver has maintained knowledge of basic driving rules and etiquette. As these rules can change since your last test, it’s best to brush up with the most recent California DMV Driver Handbook

Road Test

A road test is not always required for seniors but becomes mandatory if any signs of senior driver impairment emerge. These signs may be reported by a physician, a police officer, or a driver’s family member. To prepare for this potential test, the driver may want to participate in a senior driver training program

Driving school instructor administering driver education

What do I Need to Bring to my Senior Citizen Driver’s License Renewal in California, and When Can I Go In?

To renew a driver’s license in the state of California, the driver must present the following credentials to the DMV upon arrival:

  • Driver’s License Application: This application can be filled out in person or online. Filling this document out before your DMV visit can cut down on your time spent at the DMV office.
  • Identification Documents: ID documents, such as proof of legal residence, are needed for renewal. Bring your California State ID card, a gas bill, social security card, or other documents that confirm your identification. 
  • Social Security Number 
  • Proof of Residency: To renew a California license, the driver must present two forms of proof of residencies: a mortgage statement, a utility bill, a rental agreement, or a bank statement. 
  • $36 Renewal Fee

As a senior, you can renew your driver’s license up to 60 days before your license’s expiration date. If a road test is required for your renewal, it may be best to refresh your road knowledge by attending an online driver’s ed course or by taking driving lessons

What are the Possible Restrictions for Senior Driver’s License Renewal in California? 

The California DMV can restrict any senior’s driver’s license. These restrictions are typically determined after a doctor’s report is received or issues emerged during the road renewal test. Common requirements placed upon senior citizen drivers are:

  • No freeway driving 
  • Mandatory installation of an additional mirror on the right side of the vehicle 
  • No night driving 
  • Time of day restriction, such as avoiding rush hour traffic
  • Installation of physical support in the car to improve driving posture
  • Mandatory use of appropriate glasses while driving

Understand, too that the California DMV accepts all requests for senior citizen driving investigations reported by law enforcement, the driver’s doctor, or the senior driver’s close family members. These requests for further driving tests are performed in person at the DMV. If a senior driver is concerned about their ability to pass these mandatory tests, it would be wise to consider enrolling in driving school no matter their age or experience. Rules change. Roads change. Having the most current information and skills only benefits you. 

How do I Learn More? 

To learn more about how to renew your license in California as a senior citizen, contact the experts at Alliance Driving School at 760-638-5214. Our professionals will be happy to answer any questions that you have. 


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