Vision Requirements for Driving Class C Vehicles.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has the responsibility to enhance highway safety by increasing driver competency. Along with this responsibility, the DMV wants to keep all drivers licensed for as long as it is safe for them to continue operating a motor vehicle.
The DMV recognizes that the independence and mobility provided by the driving privilege is an important factor in the quality of life for most Californians. The good news is that impaired vision will not usually prevent you from obtaining a driver license if you can show that you are able to drive safely.
DMV Wants You to Pass
The DMV wants you to do well on your vision test. You can help yourself by being well rested and bringing your new glasses or contact lenses if your prescription has changed since your last renewal.
The DMV needs to be sure that all drivers meet the minimum vision standards. All original or renewal driver license customers must take a vision test.
When it is time for your vision exam, the field office employee will ask you to read a line on an eye chart with both of your eyes open and then another line with each eye individually. If your driver license is already restricted for “corrective lenses,” you may take the vision test wearing your glasses or contact lenses.
If you are wearing corrective contact lenses when your vision is checked, please tell the employee. You will not be asked to remove your contact lenses for the vision test. However, your driver license will be restricted to “corrective lenses.”
If you are wearing glasses and your driver license is not restricted, the employee will ask you to remove your glasses. The DMV does not want to restrict your driver license if it is not necessary.
If you have difficulty reading the eye chart, the employee will take you to a vision testing machine. This machine tests for distance vision. You will be asked to read lines of letters, first with both eyes open and then with each eye individually. The employee will guide you through each step of the exam. Please ask the employee to repeat the instructions if you do not understand them.
Since the machine tests for distance vision, you must look through the distance part of your glasses, if you wear bifocals.
DMV’s Evaluation of Your Vision
Many factors about your overall vision are considered before the DMV determines what steps to take. Some of these factors include:
- The severity of your vision condition.
- How your vision condition affects your central and side vision.
- If your vision condition affects one or both eyes.
- Can your vision condition be corrected by glasses, contact lenses, or surgery?
- Whether your vision condition will get worse.
DMV’s Screening Standards
The DMV is authorized to test all applicants’ vision under California Vehicle Code (CVC) §12804.9(a)(1)(E).
Anyone who applies for an original or renewal driver license must meet the department’s visual acuity (vision) screening standard. The DMV’s vision screening standard is:
- 20/40 with both eyes tested together, and
- 20/40 in one eye and at least, 20/70 in the other eye.
Minimum Visual Acuity Requirement
Visual acuity is a person’s ability to see items clearly and sharply and to recognize small details. If you cannot meet the vision screening standard, you must have a minimum visual acuity in at least one eye better than 20/200 (best corrected). You may wear glasses or contact lenses to meet the minimum visual acuity standard but you cannot wear a bioptic telescopic or similar lens. The DMV cannot license drivers who do not meet the minimum visual acuity standard (CVC §12805).
Drivers With Monovision
Monovision is one eye treated or untreated for distance by surgery or contact lenses, and one eye treated or untreated for close-up vision. If you have monovision, you may not be able to meet the DMV’s vision screening standard.
You will be referred to a vision specialist (eye doctor) if your vision does not meet the DMV’s screening standard. You will be given a Report of Vision Examination (DL 62) form for your eye doctor to complete and sign. When you return to the DMV with the DL 62 form, your vision will be retested. You will also have to take a driving test to demonstrate that you can drive safely, even though your vision is impaired. Passing the driving test establishes that you can compensate for any vision loss caused by your vision condition.
Your driver license may be restricted. Common restrictions are “Restricted to wearing corrective lenses” or “Restricted to driving during daylight hours only”; however, other restrictions to your driving privilege are possible. In addition, the department will take into account your vision condition and driving needs and any recommendation from the vision specialist to determine if a driver license can be issued for the full term (five years) or limited term (one or two years).
The DMV will document your impaired vision condition. If your vision condition is determined to be stable or that it will not affect your unaffected eye, you probably will not be required to repeat the vision referral process again for your next driver license renewal.