As a senior driver being told you have to take a driving test probably makes you think you are about to lose your independence. This is not necessarily true! DMV does not have different licensing standards for senior drivers. It is an individual’s mental and/or physical condition or his/her inability to follow traffic laws and rules, regardless of age, that determines whether DMV renews, restricts, suspends, or revokes a driving privilege.
Senior drivers who are asked to take a driving test have usually:
- Not met DMV's minimum vision requirements, or
- Been referred from a Driver Safety office because of a physical or mental (P&M) condition or lack of driving skill. Sometimes a law enforcement officer, your physician, or a relative or friend who is concerned about the way you are driving may refer you to DMV for a check of your driving ability.
An important point to remember at this time is that DMV may issue a license to a customer who has a physical and/or mental condition if that person is able to demonstrate, during a driving test, that he/she compensates for the condition and can drive safely. The driving test you will be asked to take is called a Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation (SDPE). In certain situations, if the Supplemental Driving test is too difficult for your abilities, you have the option of taking an Area Driving Performance Evaluation (ADPE). You and the DMV examiner will pre-determine the driving test area and if you pass that driving test, your driver license will be restricted to that area.
What is the purpose of a Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation?
When DMV asks a driver to take a Supplemental Driving test, it is to determine whether the driver:
- has the ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
- has formed or retained the proper safe-driving habits.
- can translate the knowledge of traffic laws into actual practice.
- can compensate for any physical condition that might affect safe driving ability, such as poor vision, loss of a limb, or the early stages of dementia.
- California Preparing for Your Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation Guide
During your driving test, your examiner will note any driving skill deficiencies or behaviors that need improvement, but would not disqualify you from keeping your driver license. The examiner will discuss these issues with you when have finished your driving test.
You may want to practice your driving skills by taking a driver education and training class specifically developed for older drivers. A list of approved Mature Driver Improvement Programs is available. If your driver license is suspended or revoked and you want to get your license back, contact your local Driver Safety office to inquire about a special instruction permit (SIP).