How to help your elderly parents renew their driver's license

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Austin, Texas, is known for being a haven for the young and hip, but more people 65 and older live in the Austin area than people ages 18 to 24.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce notes that Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties are home to 209,690 people age 65 and older but only 200,956 people between the ages of 18 and 24.

That means that as Austin gets grayer, the sons and daughters of those residents may have to look for resources to help them navigate social obstacles. For most, it means helping them renew their driver's license.

What to take into consideration

The Texas Department of Transportation requires drivers who are 79 years old and older to renew their license in person at the DOT office. People who are 85 years old and older can renew their license only every two years

Most who apply in person must take a vision test. You can wear your eyeglasses. Texas requires 20/40 vision with a horizontal field vision of 140 degrees.

Also, drivers with history of seizure have to have a doctor's verification that they have been seizure-free for at least six months.

Incompetent drivers

What should you do if you believe your parent (or anyone else) is incompetent to drive? The DOT says you should report them by mail to the Texas Department of Safety, PO Box 4087, Austin TX 78773-0320

If the DOT needs to conduct a reexamination of your parent's ability to drive, a DOT driver safety officer will conduct an interview and may require a vision test, written test or behind-the-wheel test.

The reexamination may result in the suspension or revocation of the license, but likely it will allow your parent to drive under restrictions. Some of those restrictions may include:

  • Wearing glasses or contact lenses
  • Restricting driving to between sunup and sundown, or prohibiting driving during rush hour
  • Restricting the geographical area, or prohibiting driving on freeways and interstates
  • Requiring special devices such as an additional side mirror
  • Requiring extra seat support to maintain a safe driving posture.

The Texas Drivers Handbook has all the information you need to help your parents retain their freedom as long as possible.

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